How to Increase the Chance of Someone Returning Your Lost Wallet
It’s not a fun feeling. You’ve reached the checkout at the grocery store, you feel into your pocket, or purse, and realize that your wallet is missing. You heart stops, you walk out without your shopping and proceed to panic. But there is one way you can significantly increase the chance of your wallet being returned intact.
If you’re like me, your life is in your wallet. From various forms of I.D. and insurance cards, to credit and bank cards, business cards, receipts and all sorts of other junk, my wallet is a portable filing cabinet. And to lose it is to lose your mind, at least for a while.
But what could you put in your wallet to dramatically increase the chances of getting it back? As Richard Wiseman, a psychologist found out, the answer was surprisingly simple – baby pictures.
As The Times reported on July 11 hundreds of wallets were distributed around Edinburgh, with different photos and contents.
Richard Wiseman, a psychologist, and his team inserted one of four photographs behind a clear plastic window inside, showing either a smiling baby, a cute puppy, a happy family or a contented elderly couple. Some wallets had no image and some had charity papers inside.
The results were conclusive. The wallets containing the baby pictures won by a landslide. A staggering 9 out of 10 wallets were returned. And when there was nothing in there at all, except the usual cards and cash, just 1 in 7 wallets came back to the owners.
Here are the results in full:
The baby photograph wallets had the highest return rate, with 88 per cent of the 40 being sent back. Next came the puppy, the family and the elderly couple, with 53 per cent, 48 and 28 respectively. At 20 per cent and 15, the charity card and control wallets had the lowest return rates.
So, why the massive difference between results? This all seems to be related to evolution:
..the result reflects a compassionate instinct towards vulnerable infants that people have evolved to ensure the survival of future generations. “The baby kicked off a caring feeling in people, which is not surprising from an evolutionary perspective,” he said.
Fortunately, I already have baby pictures in my wallet, of my two little girls. But what if you don’t? You could always ask a relative for a great picture of your niece, nephew or grandkid. But if you don’t have any of those options open to you, Dr. Wiseman has some sound advice: cheat.
“If you want to increase the chances of your wallet being returned if lost, obtain a photograph of the cutest baby you can find, and ensure that it is prominently displayed,” he said.
And if the worst should happen and your wallet does go missing, it’s wise not to wait for its return, even if it is showcasing the cutest baby on the planet. The FDIC Money Smart Education Program offers the following step-by-step advice:
1. File a police report.
Your bank and credit reporting agencies will need a copy of this report and its case number. Explain the following:
- When you first noticed your wallet missing
- Where you think it was lost or stolen
- The types of currency and information that were in it.
2. Notify your bank.
- Provide a copy of the police report and case number.
- Be prepared to close your accounts and move your funds to new ones.
- Ask your bank to contact the major check verification companies. They need to notify stores not to accept any further checks from your account.
- Cancel your ATM card. Get a new one and set it up with a new PIN.
3. Cancel all of your credit cards immediately.
Your credit card companies will send you a new credit card with a new credit card number. They may also ask you about recent transactions to determine if they are yours.
4. Notify the three major credit reporting agencies:
For each of these agencies, ask for the fraud or security department. Ask them to put a fraud alert on your credit report.
- Equifax – 1-800-525-6285
- TransUnion – 1-800-680-7289
- Experian – 1-888-397-3742
5. A few weeks after the incident, get a free copy of your credit report.
Use this to determine if fraudulent transactions have been made in your name.
Do you have any other tips for making your wallet safer of more likely to be returned? Let us know.
Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any bank, card issuer, airline or hotel chain.