Ever lost your wallet? If so, did you get it back?
If you did recover your cash, credit cards and whatever other items were in it, you can consider yourself to be one of the lucky ones. Research carried out by insurance company CPP suggests that only 23% of the 9 million wallets lost over the past five years were ever returned.
In addition to the immediate loss, one in five said they had also been the victim of credit card fraud, while 5% had had their identity stolen, with a fraudster using their name to obtain credit or benefits.
Apparently we carry an average of £85 in cash and £7,000 in credit in our wallets, as well as photographs, stamps, tickets and business cards. In my case you can add a New York MetroCard and a bottle opener to the list!
CPP carried out an experiment by dropping a number of wallets containing £10 in cash and sundry other items in a variety of places in five different cities.
Only 20% of the wallets were returned to their owners and only around half of those (55%) contained the original sum of money.
According to the experiment, the worst places to lose your wallet are in a cafe or on a train as none of the wallets “dropped” on public transport or while dining out were returned. But a third of the wallets “lost” in shopping centres were returned and your chances of recovering a wallet dropped in a museum are 47%.
I’m not sure what to make of this. Are museum goers a more honest bunch that those who use public transport?
I also came across an experiment carried out by psychologists in Edinburgh last year. They dropped a number of wallets containing a variety of cards but no cash. The difference was that some contained photographs and some didn’t.
Overall, 42% of the wallets were returned – much higher than the more recent test.
But the results showed that 88% of those containing a photograph of a baby were returned, compared with 48% that had a family snap and only 15% of those with no photograph.
So what can we conclude from these two studies?
Well, obviously not losing your wallet is a good idea. But if you are looking to increase the chances of its return in the event of a loss, it seems you should carry a photograph of a baby and frequent museums.
And looking at things from the other side of the story begs one very important question.
What would you do if you found a wallet lying in the street?