Lost Wallet 101: What to Do If You Find a Wallet Left Unattended

Lost Wallet 101: What to Do If You Find a Wallet Left Unattended

It happens more often than you’d think. You could be walking along, minding your own business, or grabbing a seat at your local café when you see it – someone’s lost wallet. 

After a quick glance around, it seems like nobody is going to claim ownership, and now you’re left wondering, what do you do with a lost wallet? After all, you don’t want to just leave it there for someone to steal. 

If you’ve found a wallet, don’t worry. There are plenty of ways to get it back to the rightful owner. Everything from doing some online sleuthing, dropping it inside a mailbox, turning it over to the police, and calling their credit card company are all viable options. 

Here’s a comprehensive list of what to do if you find a wallet that’s been left unattended.

What To Do If You Find a Lost Wallet

If you found someone’s wallet, you’ve already done the right thing by stopping to pick it up. After all, wallets often contain personal and financial information that can be devastating if it falls into the wrong hands.

You’d want someone to do it for you, so here are your options for how to return a lost wallet. 

Wait for the Owner to Come Back

If you have the time, you may want to stick around the area for a bit to see if the owner of the wallet comes back to look for it (if you’re in a rush, just keep on scrolling). It usually doesn’t take long for someone to realize their wallet is missing, and they’ll likely start to retrace their steps before long. 

But how do you know the person when you see them? First, you can try to identify them using their driver’s license photo. But, because those headshots never look cute, and may be outdated, that’s not always as easy as it sounds. 

What you can do is keep an eye out for anyone who appears to be looking for something in the area where you located the wallet. If you’re in a business, you can also give the front desk a heads-up that you found a wallet in case anyone comes looking – but DON’T hand it over to the guy at the counter (more on that later). 

Wait for the owner to come back - Person opening the wallet to show inside

Look for Contact Information Inside the Wallet

One of the easiest ways to figure out who owns the lost wallet you’ve found is to look inside for anything that contains a phone number or address.  

People often carry things like business cards, credit cards, and driver’s licenses, all of which will at least provide you with a name, and at best a phone number or email address. 

If you do get lucky and find contact information, give them a call. If not, you’ll probably have to try another method. 

Do an Online Search

If you couldn’t find contact information, but you did find an ID of some sort, you’re probably safe to try googling the person or looking them up on social media. 

If the person has a common name, be careful when reaching out to people online – you definitely don’t want to hand a wallet over to the wrong person, especially one with the same name as all those credit cards… 

Try to match the person’s name and ID photo before reaching out to them. You’d be surprised at how easy it is to find someone online when you have even a small amount of information. 

You should refrain from posting about the lost wallet on social media platforms like Facebook groups and such, however, as that can leave the person vulnerable to identity theft. We’ll get into more depth on that in a bit. 

Call Their Bank or Credit Card Company

If you can’t find any contact information and your online search didn’t yield results, you may need to turn to the debit or credit cards in the wallet. 

Most of the time, these cards have the phone number of the financial institution on the back, so you can give them a call to let them know you found the person’s wallet. While they won’t give you any personal information, they can take down your name and number and hopefully get in touch with the owner of the wallet, who can then call you. 

At the very least, they’ll have your number on file, so if the person calls the company to tell them their card has been lost, they can hopefully put them in touch with you. 

Drop it Inside a Mailbox

You may have heard that if you put a wallet in the mail, the mailman will deliver it. So, can you put a lost wallet in a mailbox for the post office to take care of? 

Yes, the rumors are true. You absolutely can stick a wallet inside a mailbox and USPS will ship it to the owner free of charge. You don’t even need to put it in an envelope! 

The only downside to this method is that you risk sending the wallet to an outdated address. (Let’s be honest, we’re not all as on top of updating our driver’s licenses as we should be.) So, while this is a legitimate option, it’s not foolproof. It can also take a long time for the wallet to be delivered, and there's always the risk of things going missing. 

Drop it in the mailbox -  Wallet laying on top of a bench

Turn It Over to the Police

If you’re having a hard time reaching the owner of the wallet on your own, or you don’t want to spend the time, you may be thinking about calling the cops. But it’s hardly an emergency, so, do you report a lost wallet to the police?

Yes, contacting your local police department to report a found wallet is a great idea. Be sure to call the non-emergency number, as you don’t want to hold up the 911 line with something like this. You can also drop it off at the station if you feel like making the trip.

From there, the police can do the legwork of finding the owner of the wallet and returning it to them. And, you can rest easy knowing that it should be safe in the meantime and that you did the right thing. 

What NOT To Do If You Find a Lost Wallet

We’ve gone over plenty of options for what to do with a found wallet, but there are a few things you should avoid doing as well. Here’s everything NOT to do if you find a wallet on the ground. 

Take Anything

This should go without saying, but if you found someone’s wallet, don’t take anything out of it. While you may be tempted to swipe a buck or two, we urge you to leave everything where it is. 

What may feel like a few bucks to you may be the other person’s milk money or bus fare, so just leave it be. Besides, you don’t want to be accused of stealing the wallet in the first place, which is a possibility, especially if you actually did take something. 

Drop the Wallet Off With the Front Desk

Most of the time, when you find something like a lost wallet while at a place of business, your first instinct is to take it up to the front desk and hand it over to the employee to take care of. But that’s not a good idea. 

This does seem like the simple solution. After all, the person will likely come back to that place to look for it, and their first stop will be at the front desk to ask if anyone turned in a wallet. But the sad truth is that even if you did turn the wallet in, that doesn’t mean it will still be there by the time the owner comes looking. 

Just because someone is an employee, doesn’t mean they’re trustworthy. When you take a wallet to the front desk, all you’re really doing is handing someone’s valuables over to yet another stranger. It’s much better to locate the person yourself or turn it over to the police. 

That being said, you should leave your name and number with the front desk in case they come looking. But, that way, at least you know nothing has gone missing from the wallet in the meantime. 

Drop off the wallet off - Generic Picture of wallet and someone picking/dropping off wallet

Post About it on Social Media

While we do suggest searching for the owner of your found wallet on social media, it’s not advised to post about it anywhere online. 

By putting personal information like names, addresses, and photos on social media, you’re putting the owner of the wallet at risk of identity theft – which effectively defeats the purpose of picking it up in the first place. 

Even a simple picture could be problematic, as a cybercriminal could easily grab things like credit card numbers, a driver’s license number, and a birthday, which they can do a lot of damage with. So, steer clear of those well-meaning posts to local lost and found Facebook groups. There are better ways. 


If you come across an unsupervised wallet, don’t just keep on walking. Most people carry important items like cash, credit cards, and their ID in their wallet, all of which can be very bad if it falls into the wrong hands.

But now what? There are a few options for what to do if you find a wallet, such as looking for contact information, calling their bank, dropping it inside a mailbox, or turning it over to the police. 

It’s also important to keep in mind that you should never leave a found wallet with the front desk of a business, post about it on social media, or remove anything from it. 

Wallet security starts with the wallet you carry. To avoid losing your own wallet, you should invest in a slim wallet that offers RFID protection and is small enough to fit in your front pocket, where it’s less likely to slip out of your pants while sitting or walking. 

If you’re interested in carrying a minimalist wallet that’s made in the USA, check out our entire collection at GeoGrit.com. Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, and follow our blog to keep up on all our latest content.
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