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Lost mobiles to pile up in taxis in run up to Xmas

I 'ad six BlackBerries in my cab the other day

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London residents leave an average 10,000 mobile phones in the back of taxis every month.

Passengers also forget an estimated 1,000 other tech gizmos - including iPods, laptops and memory sticks - in London cabs every month, according to a survey of London's licensed cabbies. The amount of gear left in cabs peaks during the run-up to Christmas, as passengers struggle to get out of cabs with multiple items of shopping, leaving them more likely to leave something behind.

"It’s a known fact that this is the worst time of year for forgetting `property’ at the back of cabs, but especially mobile phones and laptops as they slip onto the floor or get forgotten on the seats as passengers rush onto their next destination with their hands full," said Steve McMenara, a spokesman for TAXI, a magazine published by the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association.

"More people travel into London to buy their Xmas presents during this period who are not regular cab users, they hop a cab to get back to their train stations – and it’s always about an hour later we get a panicked call on their mobile phones asking for them to be returned," he added.

The survey was the latest in a regular series sponsored by security firm Credant Technologies. Credant advises punters to password protect or, better still, encrypt data on mobile devices. Protecting data on mobile phones is becoming increasingly important with the growing use of high-capacity smartphones, which are capable of holding sensitive contact files and emails. The data held on such phones is ripe for exploitation by ID fraudsters to further bank fraud or other scams.

Regularly backing up mobile devices, especially laptops, also comes highly recommended as a sensible precaution for reducing the impact of their potential loss. Users may also want to leave their name and number on a sticker on their hardware, along with details of a reward for the device if it is found and returned.

Sean Glynn, vice president with Credant Technologies, added: "We carry out our taxi survey regularly and it’s clear that none of us are infallible, especially at this busy time of year, when it’s all too easy to forget things when you’re travelling.”

"It used to be small items like brollies and briefcases stuffed full of boring office papers. Now it’s laptops, smartphones and thumb drives, all chock-full of valuable information to an identity thief," he added.

Credant commissioned a survey of 300 taxi drivers in London and a similar number in New York. Four in five of the London cabbies quizzed said that owners of gear lost in taxis were reunited with their kit once they had found kit at the back of their vehicle. By contrast, only two in three New York taxi drivers said they handed lost mobiles and the like into their depot at the end of their working day. ®

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