What to do if all your bank cards and money get stolen abroad...

Creative Commons photo credit: dborman2


First off, if you find your purse/wallet has been stolen or lost abroad, you need to call your bank immediately and cancel all your bank and credit cards that are missing. You can find the lost & stolen phone number for your bank on their website, or you can just call their customer services and they'll transfer you through. This does not cancel your account, just your cards. This means the cards that have been lost or stolen will be blocked, i.e. no-one can use them, and new cards linked to your account will be issued and sent to your home address.


The next thing you need to do is go and get a police report. If you want to claim the lost money on your travel insurance you will need to get a police report no later than 24 hours after the incident occurred in most travel insurance policies (although check yours to be sure). This is also the same if your cards have been used by the person who stole them and you need to claim it back.


If you need money immediately and all your cards are gone then arrange for someone at home to send the money to you via the Western Union. You'll be able to find your nearest Western Union online, or you may see some located in city centre locations. The Western Union typically charge a fee for transactions, but once the money has been sent you can usually go and collect it with your ID immediately. Alternatively, if you are using a global bank you may be able to call your bank and have then send money for you to collect from a partnering branch, however this can sometimes be more time consuming than the Western Union process, and not all banks can do it.


If you've lost your ID too then this is where things get a bit complicated as most banks and Western Unions will not give money over to people unless they can prove they are the intended recipient. If you are travelling with someone you may find it easier to simply have money sent to them which they can withdraw and give to you (although you'll have to trust that person), or you can arrange for your travel partner to be the person who picks up the cash at Western Union, in which case they would simply go with their ID instead of you with yours.


If you're travelling solo and your ID is gone too then you will need to locate your nearest embassy or consulate and arrange for a new passport. Once you receive the new passport you can then go and collect money. If you are from a country such as the USA then an emergency passport is usually free, but from the UK you can expect to pay over €100.


The key is to make sure you always keep a spare bank or credit card back at your hostel or hotel locked away as well as a spare ID. For instance, if you need ID while you are out take your drivers license or student ID, and leave your passport back in your locker or safe at your accommodation. This way if your money and ID get stolen you'll always have a spare card to get money and/or a spare ID to go and get money from a Western Union or bank.