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Passport Fraud - Protect Your Passport and Avoid Identity Theft

Guard your passport against theft in order to avoid passport fraud.Passport fraud is often linked to illegal immigration, contraband smuggling, economic crimes, international terrorism and other serious crimes. Knowing this, it is important that you do all that you can to prevent passport fraud and avoid identity theft.

The Washington State Attorney General's website states, "Identity theft is a serious crime that occurs when your personal information is stolen. That information can be used without your knowledge to commit fraud or other crimes that have an impact on your financial security. Thieves can also use your information to ruin your good name, steal your medical history, take away your sense of safety, or misuse images of you." It goes on to declare, "The average victim spends about 600 hours trying to restore his or her identity."

You definitely don't want to spend 600 hours trying to recuperate your good name. The Diplomatic Security Criminal Investigative Division is responsible for investigating reported cases of passport fraud. Diplomatic Security investigated 3,564 new cases of passport and visa fraud and made 583 arrests in the span of only 12 months. Remember, passport fraud is only one type of identity theft. There are several others.

One method used to commit passport fraud is the altering of support documents such as birth certificates in order to apply for the travel document. Another method is to assume the identity of a deceased person. A third action that is considered fraud is to circumvent the two-parent signature rule for children's passports.

The method of passport fraud that you, as a passport holder, need to be aware of is the substituting of the photo in a passport. Most often, this occurs overseas with older passports.

You can take specific steps to minimize the risk of having your passport stolen and used fraudulently. As with any type of identity theft, passport fraud can be a tremendous hassle if it happens to you.

Prevent Passport Fraud

  • Follow application instructions completely.
  • Make a copy of your passport and leave it with someone you trust.
  • Make a second copy to carry with you when you arrive at your destination.
  • During transit, keep your passport with you at all times.
  • Never lay your passport down on a table or counter. It can be forgotten.
  • Keep your passport in the hotel safe and not in your room.
  • Report a lost or stolen passport immediately.

These practical tips are easy to implement and can effectively minimize the risk of having your travel document used in passport fraud.

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