Wednesday, January 28, 2015

What To Do With Found Money?

The other day I was shopping at Target and as I was checking out, I saw there was a $20 bill on the ground folded up.  Immediately I picked it up and showed it to the cashier and said, "Someone dropped some money down here."  She took it and looked if the previous shopper was still there but they were gone.  It would be hard to know if it was from the previous shopper or if it had been down there for a while.

Since we didn't know whose it was, she said she would turn it in to customer service.  The customer service desk was literally 20 feet from where we were standing so she walked it over and handed it in.  She came back and said thank you.  I paid for my items as I normally would and was on my way.

I was wondering what would happen to the $20?  In my mind I had a feeling the person at customer service would just keep the money.  It didn't help that the person behind the desk didn't exactly look the most trustworthy, but who knows, hopefully they will hold on to it in case anyone comes in to claim it.

In a case like this though I think the chances are slim that anyone will claim it.  Likely the $20 just fell out of someone's wallet when they were paying and they will not notice it for a while and even if they do, not know where it went or figure it is long gone if they dropped it somewhere.

So what will happen to the money if no one claims it?  I probably should have turned it in myself and asked about the policy.  I did a little searching online and found a couple other cases like this.  Apparently if it is not claimed, it just gets added to the store account.  It would be nice if they gave it back to the person who found it if it went unclaimed.  I kind of know the cashier who turned it in for me because I shop there often so I might ask her about it next time I am in there.

Reflecting back, I turned in the money immediately because I am an honest person and I figured it does not belong to me, but other people may have just picked it up and pocketed it.  In the back of my mind I always think I am going to be on one of those hidden camera shows like  "What Would You Do" where they make moral dilemma situations like this to see how people react.  I wouldn't want to be the person they catch picking up the money and keeping it and then running into John Quinones at the door asking me why I didn't turn in the money. Of course this never happens but it definitely makes you think twice.

So what would you do in a situation like this?


  1. In a store, I'd turn in a $20. I'm not sure I'd bother if it was $10 or less.

  2. If the money is found in a public area of the store...for example a place where customers normally transit like the isles, dressing room, entrances and exits, the store has no greater "title" to the money than you do. If there is no identification with it...just money it is yours to keep. You have greater "title" to the money than anyone else except the true owner. That true owner would be obligated to prove that the money was theirs. One wrinkle is that Target has camera everywhere, they might be able to review those tapes and determine the rightful owner. They probably would not. I suspect the clerk at the counter would simply pocket the money at the end of the shift. I found a guys wallet in the Philippines when I was active duty in the Navy. It had his military ID and about $125 in cash. I took the wallet to his ship and turned it in with all the contents except the cash. I wrote him a check for the full amount in the wallet. That kept the other sailors honest.

    1. Interesting idea about writing the check for the amount of the cash to make sure no one else takes it before it gets to the rightful owner.