Most of us are familiar with the concept of identity theft – someone stealing your personal information and using it to commit fraud or other crimes.
You can try to take all the proper precautions, but, unfortunately, your identity still might be at risk. For example, this can happen if your passport falls into the wrong hands.
So, what can you do to help protect yourself? Read on for tips on helping safeguard your passport and helping prevent identity theft while holiday traveling.
How Does Passport Fraud Happen?
There are a number of ways that passport fraud can occur. Sometimes, people may use fraudulent documents to apply for a passport. This can include using a fake birth certificate, driver’s license or other forms of identification.
In other cases, people may use someone else’s passport or alter their own passport to change their appearance. This can be done by adding or removing pages, changing the photo or altering the passport number.
Passport fraud can also occur when people sell passports or passport information to others who are not authorized to have them.
This type of fraud can be difficult to detect. And it can have serious consequences for both the person who committed the fraud and the person who fraudulently purchased the passport.
Therefore, passport fraud is a serious crime that can result in fines, prison time and a loss of travel privileges.
What Can an Identity Thief Do with Your Passport Information?
If you’ve ever had your wallet lost or stolen, you know how important it is to cancel your credit cards and get a new driver’s license.
But what if your passport is stolen? While it’s not as common as having your wallet stolen, passport theft does happen. And if it happens to you, it can be a major hassle.
Passports are one of the most important forms of identification that we have. They contain a wealth of personal information, including your name, date of birth, place of birth and signature.
For identity thieves, this stolen passport information is like gold. They can use it to apply for credit cards and loans in your name, open new bank accounts and even get a job.
In some cases, they may even try to change the address on your passport to prevent you from being able to travel.
Passport theft can be complicated to deal with because it can take longer to cancel and replace a passport than to cancel and replace a credit card.
In addition, a thief who has your passport information can use it to create a new identity. For example, they may use your name and date of birth to get a new driver’s license or passport.
They may even open new bank accounts in your name and run up large debts. Identity theft protection can help you protect you and let you take action immediately if someone is using your information.
What Do If You’re a Victim of Passport Identity Theft?
If you believe your passport has been lost or stolen, or that someone has fraudulently obtained a passport in your name, you should:
- Contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate immediately.
- File a report with the local police where the passport was lost or stolen.
- Submit a DS-64, any statement regarding a stolen or lost passport, to the U.S. Department of State.
- Include a copy of the police report with your DS-64 form.
- Submit a completed application for a new passport, along with the required fees and supporting documentation.
- Include a certified copy of your birth certificate or other proof of citizenship, such as a naturalization certificate.
- If you have a previous passport that was issued within the last 15 years and can be submitted with your application, include it as well.
- Include two photographs that meet the requirements for passport photos.
- Mail your application and supporting documents to the address listed on the form.
You should also take steps to help protect your identity in case the passport thief tries to use your personal information to commit other crimes. These steps include:
Where to Report Passport Fraud?
Anyone who believes they have been the victim of passport fraud should contact the National Passport Information Center immediately. The center is available 24/7 to answer questions and help individuals report passport fraud.
All calls are confidential, and operators work with victims to gather the necessary information for law enforcement. In addition to contacting the National Passport Information Center, victims of passport fraud should also file a police report and notify the credit bureaus.
By taking these steps, victims can help prevent further damage and make it easier to catch the perpetrators.
Tips To Protect Your Passport Information During the Holidays
Keep your passport information safe if you’re one of the many people traveling this holiday season. Here are a few tips to help you protect your passport information during the holidays:
Keep your passport in a safe place.
This may seem like an obvious tip, but it’s often overlooked. When you’re traveling, your passport is one of your most important documents. So be sure to keep it safe, so it won’t get lost or stolen.
Make copies of your passport information.
Before you leave on your trip, make copies of your passport information. Keep one copy with you and leave another copy at home with a trusted friend or family member. Then, if your passport is lost or stolen, you still have the information you need to get back home.
Register your travel plans with the State Department.
If you’re traveling outside the United States, register your travel plans with the State Department. This helps them keep track of you in case of an emergency.
Keep your passport information up to date.
If you’ve had any changes to your passport information, such as a change of address or a new name, be sure to update your information with the State Department. That way, if your passport is lost or stolen, the State Department can help track you down and help you get home safely.
Be aware of your surroundings.
When traveling, it’s essential to be aware of your surroundings. This includes keeping an eye on your belongings and being aware of who is around you.
If you feel like you’re being followed or someone is acting suspicious, trust your gut and get to a safe place as soon as possible.
Following these tips can help ensure that your passport information stays safe during the holiday season.
The Bottom Line on Passport Fraud
Becoming a victim of identity theft can have long-term consequences. Passport fraud is one way that thieves can steal your identity, so be sure to take steps to help protect your documents and keep track of your personal information.
If you believe someone has stolen your identity, contact the police and credit bureaus.
If you feel like you need more protection, consider finding an identity theft protection service, like IdentityIQ. These services provide real-time identity theft and credit monitoring and help restore your identity.