Passport fraud: What is it and am I at risk?

Summer is officially here and in an arguably uncharacteristic turn of events, the UK is even enjoying a heat wave, making a change from our usual summertime tradition of rain and grey skies!

Despite the good weather, many of us Brits will still be jetting off abroad over the coming weeks for a bit of rest and relaxation. And, if you’re heading off on your holidays, you might want to get clued up on passport fraud and how to avoid it to ensure your holiday doesn’t turn into a horror.

What is passport fraud?

There are two kinds of passport fraud: 1) When a criminal pretends to be someone else, often a deceased person, to apply for a passport and 2) when lost or stolen passports are sold to an individual who has the intention of committing a crime, such as entering a country illegally, concealing their identity, committing financial fraud or engaging in crimes like drug trafficking or even terrorism.

It’s this second type of fraud that you may be at risk of this summer if you’re carrying your passport around and it goes missing.

What is the risk?

Figures released last year showed nearly 20,000 British passports were reported as either lost or stolen worldwide in just 12 months[1]. While misplacing your passport or taking your eye off your bag for a while is easily done when on holiday, the reality is that once your passport goes missing, your identity is at risk and it’s something you can’t ignore.

What to do if your passport is lost or stolen

Once you’re aware your passport has been lost or stolen, you must report it as soon as possible, so your passport can be cancelled. This helps to reduce the risk that someone can use your passport criminally.

You can report a lost or stolen passport either online here or by telephone on 0300 222 0000.

If you’re abroad when your passport goes missing, you need to fill in an LS01 form. You can download this here. Once you’ve filled it in, you need to take it to the nearest British Embassy, High Commission or Consulate.

When you return to the UK, it’s probably a good idea to start monitoring for identity theft and fraud to make sure you can spot anything that doesn’t seem right sooner rather than later. Use your Noddle credit report to check for any searches you don’t recognise or any financial accounts appearing that you didn’t take out. You can find out more about using your credit report to monitor for identity theft and fraud here.

Noddle also offers an ID Protection tool, which scours the dark web for any sign that your details are being sold or traded illegally online and sends you alerts if they find something or if there is a change to your credit report. This costs £30 for 12 months and you can find out more by clicking the Noddle Extras tab in your Noddle account.

How to reduce your risk of passport fraud this summer

If you’re heading abroad, there are a few simple things you can do to reduce the likelihood of your passport being lost or stolen.

  1. Don’t carry it around with you – lock it away in the hotel safe or your suitcase if possible. While this doesn’t mean it’s 100% safe, it’s not as risky as carrying it around in your bag.
  2. Keep all passports in one place – you’re more likely to remember where they are this way.
  3. If you do need your passport with you, always keep it where you can see it – try to avoid backpacks and keep you bag with you at all times.

Follow these tips and chances are you’ll remember your holiday for fun, not fraud.

[1] http://www.passports-office.co.uk/blog/lost_passport_urgent_renew_help/