The cab drove off with my purse — what would you do?


The fear of losing your credit cards and IDs is one of the most common travel phobias. But that fear became a reality for Carol Gail on a trip to Paris, when she left her change purse with her driver’s license, two credit cards, and some money in a cab on the way from the airport to her hotel.

She realized almost immediately what had happened and tried to catch the cab but it had pulled away.

Gail had arranged for the cab in advance online through a service called Taxi Leader, but her multiple attempts to reach them went unanswered. She even went to the police, reasoning that the company would call back when the police made the inquiry.

No such luck.

Her story underscores the importance of being extra vigilant with credit cards and identity documents when you’re traveling, but with jet lag and the disruption to routine that goes with travel, what happened to Gail could happen to any of us.

It’s important to keep copies of travel documents and credit card company contact information in a separate, secure location. Some credit card companies simplify contacting them with smartphone apps. And you can keep photos of credit cards and documents on your phone.

You can also use your phone camera to snap a picture of your cab’s identification number while in route, just in case you need it later. All very helpful as long as you don’t also lose your phone. So as they say in IT, redundancy is important.


We recommended that Gail post her story to our forum at Elliott.org, which is monitored by our advocates and travel industry experts who may be able to respond with suggestions.

Related story:   Help! Amazon locked my account and took my $375

Too bad she didn’t lose her purse in the Seattle airport, where, thanks to an innovative partnership on which we reported back in July of 2016, her odds of recovering her wallet would have been much better. We have a few tips on how to recover items that are misplaced when you travel, even when all hope is lost.

In the meantime, here are some questions for you: Did she overlook anything? What would you do in the same situation? What steps would you take to secure your belongings?

Once, on a visit to Turkey, my European friends made fun of “the nervous American” because I was using a document wallet that hung around my neck under my shirt. I pointed out to them that should they lose their documents, they were on more familiar turf, and home was just a short train ride away.

On the other hand, if I’d lost my documents, it would have been a major hassle and put a big damper on my vacation. Just as it did for Carol Gail.

Should we advocate for Carol Gail?

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Dale Irvin

Dale Irvin is a semi-retired writer and editor, now living in south Florida after three years roaming around North America in an RV. You can read about those adventures at fabulousfifthwheel.com.

  • sirwired

    It does seem baffling the booking service won’t even dig up the reservation and see who it was assigned to.

    On another note, I’ve had good luck with airports and ID. When I left my Driver’s Lic in LAS security, it came in the mail a few days later from L&F without me even calling them to report it. (I had already replaced it by that point, because I really needed a license, but it was a nice gesture!)

  • Hanope

    I wouldn’t be surprised if she never got it back, or anything except a shrug from the taxi company/driver. they’ll just claim they never saw it, another customer must have taken it. At least that’s been my experience when I lost something in the bowels of a taxi. Better cancel those cards quick.

  • Alan Gore

    If you leave something in a conventional medallion cab, there is no connection between you and the company. It’s the price of anonymity. Had you gone with Lyft or Uber, on the other hand, you have an account with the company and are an ongoing customer. They could have easily found who was driving you at the logged time you rode.

  • David___1

    I voted no. I have no idea what you’d advocate.

  • AAGK

    What does this say about the Police Dept there that it doesn’t even get a call back from a cab company. She did everything I would have done. This could happen to anyone.

  • Dutchess

    What does the cab company owe her, what exactly would you be advocating for? She left the purse in the cab, the cab company isn’t responsible for her lost article. Yes, they could have checked, yes they could have called back but beyond that they owe the OP nothing. Sounds like a waste of time.

  • AMA

    When I travel, I xerox front and back of all my credit and bank cards, and keep the paper in my hotel room. That way I have all the emergency phone #s as soon as I realize something is missing.

  • PsyGuy

    I voted yes, because I want to see how Chris would possibly solve this problem.

  • PsyGuy

    Agree, it’s gone.

  • PsyGuy

    True, but unless the driver was the honest type, who would have already returned it, it’s still gone and the excuse is they never saw it.

  • PsyGuy

    This is Paris, the prefectural police and the gendarmerie have better things to do.

  • PsyGuy

    I do something similar, I have all my document copies uploaded to the cloud.

  • Koholaz

    I’m confused. What is there to advocate?

  • The Original Joe S

    advocate for an avocado using an abogodo

  • The Original Joe S

    using an abogodo, advocate for an avocado

  • jim6555

    Reaching “customer service” for Uber or Lyft is nearly impossible. There’s no phone number to call and no customer help area on their websites.

  • e santhin

    Many years ago my wife and I took a trip to Cairo, Egypt. The next day we hired a taxi at the hotel for the day to take us around the city as we toured on our own. As we were leaving the hotel grounds a guard stopped us and recorded the cab drivers identity with our name and room number. During one of our stops as we were walking around I found my wallet was missing with all our money, credit cards and identity. We hurried back to our taxi where the driver handed me my wallet. Somehow I had dropped it as we were leaving the cab. I sometimes wonder if the cab driver would have been so honest the hotel guard had not made our trip a matter of record. Regardless I tipped the driver handsomely.

  • KennyG

    Are you kidding? Look at all the people that voted to advocate [more than half as I write this]. Obviously there must be someone to sue, or write nasty letters to. It cannot possibly be the fault of Carol Gail. Maybe sue the car manufacturer for putting a back seat into the cab. If there was no back seat than no place to have left the purse. Someone else besides Ms. Gail must be to blame and held to account.

  • sirwired

    I had a problem with an Uber ride (driver forgot to turn off the proverbial meter), filed a ticket using the app (took about two minutes), and it was resolved in about an hour.

    Since it’s an app-based company, it makes sense for you to at least start the interaction with customer service using the app. (The ticket was followed-up via e-mail.)

  • JewelEyed
  • Steven Reed Sr.

    Uber does have a mechanism to help recover lost items, I’m an Uber driver and people always leave stuff in the car, if you contact Uber they will help you contact the driver and get your item back

  • Steven Reed Sr.

    In the app is a link to report lost items

  • Carrie

    Really great advice. I’m not traveling but just made copies of my D.L., insurance cards, credit cards etc..Just a plain good idea to keep them handy

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