What is Passport Identity Theft?   

For many of us, a passport is the gateway to paradise.  It is that identifying document that allows you to legally cross borders throughout the world.  Considering how important a passport is, it is natural that such an essential document has become a prime target for many identity thieves.

From fiction to reality

Highlighting the dangers of passport identity theft, an author by the name of Frederick Forsyth wrote a book entitled, "The Jackel."  The story evolves around an assassin who seeks out the identity of a person around his age who died as a child.  After finding information about the deceased victim, the assassin applies for a passport in their name.  This book was written long before the widespread use of computers and technology as we know it today.  The evolution of electronic data has made it much easier for authorities to check for validation with the ability to match dates for births and deaths.  This technology has closed many of the loopholes mentioned in Forsyth's book. 

On the other hand, all of these loopholes have not been closed to creative identity thieves.  There has been word of alleged attempts from imposters using Forsyth's fictional approach by trying to issue fraudulent passports in New Zealand.  The plot consisted of thieving the identity of a disabled individual who is very unlikely to apply for a passport.  After spotting a victim, the thieves would complete a routine passport application in that person's name without their knowledge. 

Believe it or not, a black market exists in many countries that thrives on using passports to steal identities.  A large part of the motivation revolves around illegal immigration and other criminal activity.  Because of this growing problem, authority agencies across the globe have worked steadily to improve the process of issuing passports.  These efforts were also enforced due to the numerous terrorists threats and incidents that have occurred over recent years.  Several countries now insert data chips inside of biometric passports, along with other modifications to the designing and verification procedures. 

I Lost My Passport ... Now What?

In the long run, losing a passport can prove to be a more serious matter than having your driver's license stolen.  When this important document falls prey to a malicious individual, there is a great chance that it will be used to commit identity theft.  If you happen to lose your passport, it is very important contact the authority who issued it.  If you are in a foreign location at the time, you would need to report the loss to the country's embassy.  In this instance, it is possible to have a temporary passport issued, allowing you to carry on with a vacation.  

If you are visiting a foreign country, the passport should remain on your person at all times.  Remember to keep the document concealed properly rather in a bag that can be easily snatched away.  Another option you have is to use the security deposit safes provided by your hotel.  One should never downplay the consequences of losing a passport.  By taking the necessary steps to protect this important document, you are also minimizing the possibility of identity theft

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Identity theft comes in many forms.

A person\92s identity can be 'borrowed' for the purpose of creating fictional credit cards or a person\92s entire identity can be usurped to the point where they can have difficulty proving that they really are who they claim to be.

Up to 18% of identity theft victims take as long as four years to realize that their identity has been stolen.

There are many ways to protect your personal identity and many steps you can take to prevent your identity from being stolen:

*Never give out unnecessary personal information
*Never provide bank details or social security numbers over the Internet
*Always remain aware of who is standing behind you when you type in your personal credit codes at ATM machines and at supermarket checkout swipe machines.