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My Volunteer Lost Their Wallet -- Now What?

Posted by Lindsay Hall on 8/20/18 12:04 PM


One of the worst part for the parents at home is when something does go wrong for your volunteer -- like losing their wallet -- and being far away. It's difficult to know how you can help, but that's where we can help. 

Lost wallet? ILP (International Language Programs) has a lot of experience in dealing with situations like this. We've sent thousands of volunteers out over the past 25+ years and I'm sure you can guess lost wallets have happened a few times. 

There are many benefits to volunteering with ILP, but safety is by far the biggest. Learn more about our program with this guide: ILP For The Parents 

While being so far away will limit what you can do for your volunteer, there are things you can do for your volunteer BEFORE they leave to prepare them for a situation like this and there are some things you can do after to try and help them out.

Things To Do Before They Leave 

  • Learn Tips For Traveling With Money
  • Know What's In The Wallet 
  • Have Your Name On The Account 

Ways To Help If Their Wallet Is Missing or Lost 

  • Keep Them Calm
  • Cancel/Order New Cards 
  • Watch Their Accounts
  • Venmo (If Necessary) 

Things To Do Before They Leave

Learn Tips For Traveling With Money

Hopefully you can prevent the problem before it even happens.

One of the best things you can teach your volunteer before they leave for an international is how to carry their money. It's never a good idea to carry all your cards and cash in your wallet. If you do lose your wallet or *knock on wood* your wallet gets stolen, you won't have any backups.

The best thing to do is only carry one card and a small amount of money anytime you're out for the day. We also recommend having more than one debit/credit card (possibly even from different banks) as other options in case your primary card is lost or isn't working.

Leave their other cards and a majority of their cash in their apartment or at their host family's house in a place that's safe and secure. If the unthinkable happens and their wallet is gone, they still have options and only one card to worry about.

Know What's In The Wallet 

Having a list of all the cards they took with them can be very valuable in the case their wallet is gone. If you're anything like me, it's hard for me to remember what's exactly in my wallet at all times.

In the event of a lost or stolen wallet, it's important to know exactly what was in there. You will want to be able to contact your banks and cancel your cards quickly. Make a quick list and tape it to the front of their journal (or something they will keep with them throughout their whole trip) as well as another one for yourself. You never know when you'll need it. I like to photocopy the front and backs of my cards and also write the contact number if I do need to call the bank.

Have Your Name On The Account 

You'll want to make sure your volunteer has access to a couple of different debit accounts while abroad -- just in case of a situation like this. If they carry one card at a time and one gets lost, you'll be able to transfer their money to the other account.

It's also a good idea to make sure you're both on the account just in case you need to contact the bank for them. If you didn't do this before they left and they lost their wallet, it's still not the end of the world! There are other options.

ILP adventure

Ways To Help If Their Wallet Is Missing or Lost 

Keep Them Calm

One of the most important roles you will play in this entire situation is keeping them calm. As overwhelming and hard as it may seem to you, it's even more overwhelming for your volunteer. When you get the phone call about a lost wallet, reassure your volunteer that it's not the end of the world, and you'll get everything figured out. 

If they stay calm, the whole next process will go so much smoother. 

Cancel/Order New Cards

Step one is cancelling all debit or credit cards in the stolen wallet. This is why it's helpful to know exactly what's inside of your volunteer's wallet. 

It's really difficult when you're living outside of the States to get a hold of banks and other institution, especially when dealing with a drastic time difference.  It will often be so much easier for you to contact the bank yourself and have them cancel the stolen card and order a new one for them. 

Once you get the new card, you will want to send it to them ASAP. All you need to do is go to the post office and mail it out; it should arrive within a 1-3 weeks. 

Watch Their Accounts

Keep an eye on the account even after cards have been cancelled for peace of mind. If you see any suspicious charges, talk to your volunteer to make sure it wasn't their purchase and then report it immediately to your bank.

Again, this will probably be easier for you to do for your volunteer which is made handier if you have your name on their account. 

Venmo (If Necessary) 

In the case that your volunteer loses all of their cards and cash and it will be several weeks before you're able to get them a replacement ... there is always Venmo.

A fellow volunteer in their ILP group is bound to have Venmo and a debit card of their own that they can pull cash out. If it comes down to it, you can Venmo their friend and have them pull money out for your volunteer when they need it. That's a great option to get by in a pinch - and another reason we love the added security of traveling in groups.


Even though lose a wallet may seem like the end of the world, it's not! It's not fun and may be a pain to figure out, but don't let it bring your volunteer down. They are having the most amazing experience that is truely life changing for them

In the case of an emergency, it's always good to have a way to contact your volunteer. Here are some proven ways we have found to get ahold of them quickly

For any other questions or concerns you have, contact one of our awesome ILP representatives by clicking the button below. 

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Topics: Semester Preparation, Travel Tips, Life Abroad, For The Parents

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