While trained security check points may be able to locate a passport imposter, don’t ever forget that passport books can still be used to steal your identity. Identity thieves aren’t interested in traveling the world with your passport, yet they may very well do so after they have accessed your bank accounts, credit cards or established new credit in your name.
Along with money of course, a passport can take you around the world, for work or pleasure or both. Movies have made using stolen passports to travel look both easy and glamorous. While it certainly happens, it is harder and harder in a post 911 world to use a stolen passport for travel. However, stolen passports still hold great value for identity thieves. While trained security check points may be able to locate a passport imposter, don’t ever forget that passport books can still be used to steal your identity. Identity thieves aren’t interested in traveling the world with your passport, yet they may very well do so after they have accessed your bank accounts, credit cards or established new credit in your name.
Another Black Market
Yes there are black markets for stolen passports that resell them to illegal immigrants or other criminals intent on financial fraud. Despite the fact that many countries are introducing data chips inside biometric passports, today losing a passport or having it stolen can be even more of a hassle than a stolen driver’s license. In the U.S. alone almost 600,000 passports are issued every three months. In some cases black market passports can bring up to $3,400.00.
Around 3,000 blank British passports were stolen from a hijacked security van.. The Foreign officers insisted that a blank isn’t usable for crossing a border but others warned that they might have never been the intent. Tom Craig, a former Scotland Yard officer who now specializes in identity theft says that that really depends on the border.
“If an expert knows what the new passports should look like and they have the technology, then they will find the mistakes,” said Craig. “But how do you know if it’s good or bad if you don’t know those details?”
Craig warned that while travel on the stolen passports may have been difficult, “People will open up bank accounts, get work and pose as British citizens in outside countries. This is a serious, critical situation.”
What should you do if your passport is stolen or lost?
If your passport is lost or stolen you must you must contact the issuing authority immediately. If your passport is stolen in another country you should also contact the U.S. embassy. Generally a passport can be replaced within a reasonable amount of time, usually 24 hours, if you can prove your citizenship and identity. It is recommended that if you are traveling abroad you should have copies of your birth certificate and driver’s license and other identifying information that you keep stored separately from your passport. You should also file a police report and have a copy with you as you file for reapplication.
Whether you’re at home or traveling, U.S. citizens should keep this number and address handy but once again, stored separately from your passport.
U.S. Department of State Passport Services
Consular Lost/Stolen Passport Section
1111 19th Street, NW, Suite 500
Washington, DC 20036
Even though you may only use your passport occasionally or even rarely it should be protected as if it is a passport to your identity and your credit. Like driver’s social security cards or numbers, passports are often the final dot for the “I” in ticket to stealing your identity.