Only one in five people who found a wallet would hand it in or try to track down its owner, research indicated today.
Card and identity protection firm CPP carried out an experiment in which 20 wallets and purses were dropped in five different cities across the UK.
The wallets contained £10 in cash, as well as photographs, tickets, receipts and stamps to make them look authentic.
They also contained business cards with telephone numbers that linked through to the research team.
But only two out of every 10 wallets that were dropped were returned to their owners, and only half of these still contained the £10.
None of the 25% of wallets that were returned in Birmingham contained any money. By contrast, all the wallets returned in London still contained the original sum of money.
Separate research carried out by the group found that 10% of people have lost their wallet during the past five years, while 8% have had it stolen.
Despite the fact that six out of 10 people said they would either hand in a lost wallet or try to trace its owner, 77% of people who lost their wallet or had it stolen never saw it again.
The group also found that as well as having an average of £85 of cash in their wallet, people also typically had £7,000 of credit.
One in five people who had lost their wallet or had it stolen said they had 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.
Sarah Blaney, card fraud expert at CPP, said: "Losing your wallet or having it stolen is a highly stressful experience and causes great inconvenience and worry.
"With the vast majority of people carrying their credit and debit cards, as well as vital personal information, in their wallets, millions of people are putting themselves at risk of fraud."
:: ICM questioned 2,029 people between July 29 and August 1. PCP Research dropped wallets in London, Leeds, Cardiff, Glasgow and Birmingham as part of the research.Reuse content