I Found A Debit Card – What Should I Do?

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Dear Miriam,

I found a debit card on the ground in a crowded tourist location. Would it be better to leave it where I found it, assuming the person might retrace their steps, or bring it to security, hoping the person goes to lost and found?

Care for the Card


Dear Card,

Not so long ago, I answered a question about another item on the ground, but in that case, it was a discarded kippah that no one wanted, rather than a valuable item that someone definitely wants. However, in both cases, my answer is shockingly similar: you should pick it up. In the case of the kippah, it was to avoid people continuing to step on it, and in this case, it’s so the card doesn’t fall into the wrong hands or gets even further misplaced, and to increase the changes that it gets back to its owner.

Since the owner of the debit card may still be nearby, you might want to pick it up and ask around in a kind of loud but non-threatening way, “Hey is anyone missing a debit card?” Presuming people aren’t going to lie to your face, I would guess only the rightful owner would respond if they were nearby. But if no one answers, and you don’t see anyone patting their pockets or looking obviously distressed, you can assume the person has moved on unknowingly.

Touristy places are busy, crowded, and full of people who probably don’t know their way around and are usually in a hurry to get somewhere else, likely with a screaming small child, surly teenager, or exhausted elderly person in tow. Unless you found the card directly in front of a store or restaurant, in which case you could leave it at the register, the owner will likely have a hard time retracing their steps accurately. If you left it where you found it, I hope that the next person who would come along and find the card on the ground would not have any ill intent, but you’re saving the next person the trouble of this decision.

So pick up the card, give it to an employee or security guard, or bring it directly to an info desk or customer service or lost and found. Even if the person you hand it to isn’t the right person, they will know what to do because, unlike you, they work in this tourist location and see misplaced objects – and the people who lost them – all the time. The mitzvah of hashavat aveida, returning lost items, can’t always be achieved, but you’re more likely to help this debit card get back to its owner by putting it in a safer location where it’s more likely to be found.

Be well,