/ Travel & Leisure

Identity theft: is your passport where you left it?

When a bank card is lost or stolen we’re often very quick to get it cancelled, so why do we drag our heels when passports go missing?

Action Fraud is warning that a lack of action over reporting lost passports could be exposing people to identity theft.

According to the Home Office, 400,000 UK passports are reported lost or stolen each year, but we typically wait 73 days before reporting it.

A passport contains valuable information for fraudsters, including your full name, date of birth and where you were born. With this information, someone could take out a loan, mobile contract, credit card or current account with an overdraft facility.

Why wait?

While it isn’t completely clear exactly what’s stopping people reporting their lost or stolen passports, we can speculate that it may well be one of the last things you’d think about after dealing with a robbery.

For many of us, passports are also a relatively infrequently used form of identification. Most of us will use them only when going abroad, which means that for the rest of the time they’re left in the house, often tucked away in drawers and cupboards.

On plenty of occasions I’ve heard stories of people trying to dig their passports out just days before going on holiday – some have even missed their flights as a result.

They’re also easy to lose in transit: with documentation that you aren’t used to carrying with you regularly, some have even lost their passports in the journey to and from the airport.

ID theft rising

The latest figures from not-for-profit fraud database Cifas show identity fraud is at ‘epidemic’ levels,  with 89,000 cases recorded in the first six months of 2017 – up 5% compared with last year.

Cifas believes identities are being stolen at a rate of 500 a day, so it’s never been more important to ensure that our physical identification and documentation is kept safe and secure.

If your identity has been stolen and used fraudulently, you should contact your bank, credit card company, any other lenders and the local police on 101. Be sure to also report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or online.

Have you ever lost your passport and not realised? Perhaps after reading this you’ll also be asking: is your passport where you think you left it?

Comments

My passport has expired but is still unlikely to be discovered by a burglar.

We have a safe. If it’s not in that we move to stage 2: panic.

DerekP says:
15 July 2018

Yes it is 🙂

Presumably you will not generally know your passport is missing unless you come to need it, usually for travel. For many, that is infrequent. So just how do we know it takes a “long time to report it” if we do not know when it was lost? When you need your passport, and cannot find it, I’d suggest most people report it straight away in order to get a replacement, not wait 73 days (“we typically wait 73 days before reporting it.“.

Either I’m too hot, or there is a bit of illogical reporting going on.

I keep our passports in a safe place. I’m not telling you where that is. 🙁 All I have to do is remember when I need to.

Perhaps I could include the safe places I keep things in my bit of cyber space, along with all my passwords and other personal information. Then just ask Alexa. Wouldn’t it be lovely to have someone to help whom you could totally trust? Ah……….mrs r…….. 🙂

I am having a powerful attack of déjà vu. I thought we had recently had this Conversation. Where has it gone? Is there anything new here? Or is the heat getting to me?

Update: It’s alright . . . I’ve found it [the previous Conversation, that is]. It’s in The Lobby – see
https://conversation.which.co.uk/technology/the-lobby/#comment-1536554

Nice to see things lying around in The Lobby can eventually be picked up and brought blinking into the daylight.

I know exactly where my passport is since I put it back there yesterday.

Patrick Taylor says:
16 July 2018

“With this information, someone could take out a loan, mobile contract, credit card or current account with an overdraft facility.”

Possibly I am being obtuse but does not the taking of loans etc etc require a semblance of a picture and of the right age and gender.? I would hate to suggest that our institutions are very lax in making proper identification but I am afraid this is the case.

I noted a report earlier in the year when a man, with the connivance of a bank, was converting cheques payable to his wife to a new account. The fact the story failed to mention the Bank and its flawed procedures reflects an unwillingness for the banking industry to get to grips with the problem. You have to appreciate that given the losses are offset against taxes and are not reflected in management bonuses that there is little reason to do anything.