In this day and age, losing your cell phone (and all the information on it) can be a big source of distress.

Ottawa residents can feel a little better about their chances of getting those phones back after the city was ranked number one in an international survey for honesty.

Security firm Symantec planted 50 "lost" cell phones with fake personal information in five North American cities: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Ottawa, New York City and Washington, D.C.

The phones were monitored to see what happened after they were picked up, including phone "O4" which was left on a pay phone at the St. Laurent transit station.

"It was picked up and within 20 minutes I actually got notified that it was found," said Scott Wright with Security Perspective, who worked with Symantec on the study.

After that, the phone went to Cornwall, back to Ottawa the next day and to Cornwall again while whomever found it tried to access contacts, banking information, corporate e-mails and more.

"It doesn't matter what the intent is or the motivation, the fact that the data has been breached by somebody is an important consideration from a security point of view," Wright said.

Overall, they found Ottawa's return rate was at 70 per cent, the best of all cities examined and well above the average of 50 per cent.

Experts said the best way to protect a lost phone is to protect it with a password.

"Now that I actually think about it, I probably should (get a password)," said one cell phone user.

"The key thing is we have to educate people on how to treat their information seriously," Wright said.

With a report from CTV Ottawa's Karen Soloman