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Your full legal name, date of birth, and photograph can all be found on the information page of a passport, which serves as an identification document. Someone could use this knowledge, together with other personal facts and social engineering, to mimic you.
Getting credit in your name, convincing your bank to let them access your accounts, committing tax fraud, or any number of other malicious acts can all fall under the umbrella of impersonation.
This is a straightforward example: “Hello, world’s largest airline! Yes, I am unable to access my online account. I’m sorry, but I can’t reset your password since I no longer have access to that email. So, is it okay if I send you a copy of my ID via email or fax? What a great idea!” They could arrange a last-minute flight to Tahiti with your frequent flier miles before the owner notices (or more likely, try to sell the miles to someone else). It’s possible for a thief to find a new location despite the efforts of some airlines to make it more difficult.
There is no doubt that you hand up your passport to a number of persons when travelling and are not instantly targeted. Even if a hotel worker is dishonest, they’re more likely to be after your credit card number than your personal information.
If you share the picture online, you run the risk of it being seen by anyone. When a database of personal information is compromised, thieves might sell the information online.
If a someone finds a copy of your passport on the internet and connects it to your social security number, they are well on their way to ruining your life.
A visa might also show when you intend to leave the country, as well as the length of your stay (especially if the duration is limited to the approximate dates of your travel, as some countries do). However unlikely a break-in is, why make it easier for a potential burglar by displaying your visa?
There isn’t a lot someone can instantly do with this information, but it’s a crucial piece of the puzzle that someone may use both to gain additional information about you and to abuse it. Because of this, don’t share it with anyone.
To give you an idea of what might be possible with a scanned copy of your passport and your stolen identity, here are some possibilities:
- Transact in your name on a national and worldwide scale (fraud)
- Financial crimes involving the use of your identity, such as money laundering and the opening of accounts in your name only for the goal of defrauding others
- Theft of money by deception.
- Assuming that you have done a crime that you did not commit, from murder to robbery to kidnapping.
- utilising your passport to prove that you are the director of a phoney firm; and in doing so, implicating you in improper trade.
- Selling your personal information to a third party so that they might use it to bring criminal charges against you is known as identity theft.
What can someone do with your passport number?
What if your email is hacked or your passport information is compromised? What could this person do with your passport number? Is it really going to hurt you?
Here are some of the things a fraudster may do with your passport number.
1. Theft of Identity
The number on your passport can be exploited to steal your identity. The degree of the identity theft will be determined by how much information the individual knows other than your passport number.
While your passport number may not be particularly helpful in and of itself, it could be utilized in fraudulent transactions by someone who provides your passport number instead of theirs.
If the scammer obtains a copy of your passport, it could be used to create counterfeit passports. While this is less popular nowadays due to the increased security features on new passports, there are still those that engage in this type of scam.
3. Your Passport Scanner Can Be Used Or Sold
A new type of identity theft involves the use of a scanned copy of your passport or a passport scan as POI (Proof of Identity).
Many websites and organisations demand POI in order for users to authenticate their credentials. Some scammers who intend to exploit these internet identities for nefarious purposes may use the scan of another person’s passport as verification.
If your passport scan is compromised, the hacker may use or sell it on the dark web. This could lead to you becoming implicated in crimes about which you are unaware.
How to avoid any misuse of a scanned copy of your passport?
If you need to provide your passport information for formal reasons, you may have no choice but to do so via email. So, what can you do to lessen the dangers inherent in this situation? The following advice may be useful.
1. Simply Send A Link To The File To Your Friend Using a Secure Cloud Storage Service.
Make sure that you don’t immediately attach a scanned copy of your passport to the email message itself. There is no way for you to prevent a file from being accidentally removed from the recipient’s inbox once it has been sent.
A year after the recipient’s email is hacked, the recipient still has your passport scan.
Uploading the file to a cloud storage service is the safest option. It is possible to type the necessary information on a separate document and upload a PDF of that document to the cloud, even if you are only asked for your passport number. After that, you can send an email with a link to the file.
If the receiver was able to receive and access the file, you can then remove or revoke access to the file. The recipient’s access to the file will be limited in this way.
Avoid free cloud storage services with insufficient encryption and security. Select a reputable cloud storage service with care. Free file-sharing services should also be avoided because of the potential security risks.
Dropbox, Google Drive, pCloud, and Sync are some of the most popular cloud storage services.
2. Remove any information that isn’t absolutely necessary.
Block out unnecessary information from a scanned copy of your passport. Tourist organisations, on the other hand, may not require information such as your birth date, place of birth, passport issue date, and passport expiration date.
If you’re sending a copy, you can omit this information to keep the danger to a minimum.
3. A Passport Scanner In Black And White Is More Accurate.
Sending a high-resolution copy of your passport by email makes it easier for identity thieves to target you, even though it is more convenient to do so. Instead than sending a high-resolution image of your passport, it’s better to just send a black-and-white copy of the document.
How Do You Prevent Passport Thieves from Accessing Your Personal Data using Scanned Copies of your passport?
Keeping your personal information, including your passport details, safe is extremely important. Remember that even while it is standard practice for people to send out copies of their passports in various transactions, there is no guarantee of the protection and confidentiality of your personal information.
You can keep your passport information safe by following these helpful hints:
- Don’t email your passport information unless you have to. Check to see if the individual inquiring is affiliated with a reputable organisation or corporation.
- Provide only the essentials when requested for your passport information. Avoid emailing a whole copy of your passport if only your name and passport number are required.
- Before sending an email with your passport number, check to see whether you can do so over the phone first, rather than emailing the receiver.
- It’s best to steer clear of using your passport as proof of identity on the internet. There is a risk that your personal information could be hacked and leaked from these sites.
- Instead of emailing a file as an attachment, utilise a secure cloud sharing service like Dropbox or Google Drive.
- Keeping your personal information safe is getting increasingly difficult in an age when fraudsters are growing more creative and sophisticated. You can lessen your chances of being a victim of online fraud and scams by following these suggestions.
Should you send a scanned copy of your passport via email?
If you are a frequent traveller, you are surely aware that presenting a copy of your passport is rather standard practice. Most hotels and tourist organisations are required by law to ask for a copy of the traveler’s passport in order to verify their identity in many countries, including the United States.
Employers frequently want your passport information as part of the onboarding process, especially if you are applying to work in a foreign country.
When asked to transmit your passport number or a copy of your passport by email for the first time, you may be concerned about whether it is safe to send a picture of your passport by email. If you look on travel discussion sites, you will find that experienced travellers are generally dismissive of the idea of submitting a copy of their passport online. The majority of them believe that everything is normal and that nothing awful will happen.
Is it, however, truly risk-free in every way? What are the potential dangers that may be involved? The following are just a few of the possibilities that could happen if you transmit your passport over email instead of regular mail.
1. Concerns Regarding Security
Emails are not 100 percent secure in their transmission. Regardless of whether you are using a free or premium email service, your email account might be compromised. As a matter of fact, according to a Verizon analysis published in 2019, 94 percent of malware is sent over email.
In the event that you have sensitive information in your outbox, such as your passport number, you will be putting your information at danger.
2. Breach of Personal Information
Due to the fact that email servers are not secure, they are vulnerable to data breaches. Even the most well-known email services, such as AOL and Yahoo, have been the victims of data theft.
However, even if you are using a highly secure email provider, you cannot be certain that the receiver to whom you are sending the email has a high level of security.
While it seems understandable that you would email your passport copy when booking a hotel room at a 5-star hotel, what happens if the hotel’s database is compromised? As an example, in 2020, the Marriott Hotel was the victim of a data breach that exposed the personal information of more than 5 million customers.
This was not the first time this had occurred, as Marriott had also experienced a data breach in 2018, in which over 327 million people’s passport numbers were exposed, according to the company’s website. You no longer have any influence over what happens on the other side of the exchange once your passport information has been transmitted electronically, as evidenced by this example.
3. Incorrect Recipients
Were you aware that one of the most common reasons of a data leak is human error? Human mistake was responsible for 90 percent of all data breaches that occurred in the United Kingdom in 2019.
As a result, how does this statistic play a role in the process of emailing your passport information?
If you accidentally send an email to the wrong recipient because you typed the wrong email address, you won’t be able to take it back if the recipient has already read it. Recalling an email message is possible on some email platforms; however, this is only effective for a limited period of time or if the receiver has not yet received and read your email.
What to do when your passport number is breached?
- Don’t rush to replace a document if only the number has been stolen. You may not be provided a new passport free of charge because the number alone does not cause identity theft. That implies you’ll have to foot the bill for the new paperwork yourself. A replacement passport is being offered in the case of the Marriott hack if you can prove that your passport was used for fraud or identity theft. To find out what options you have in your unique situation, carefully review the fine print.
- It’s unnecessary to wait if you can prove that the document was hacked if it was about to expire soon and you were intending to replace it. In order to demonstrate your need for an early replacement passport, you may be required to send a letter or email notification from Marriott International.
- When you receive a new passport, you’ll get a new number, but that doesn’t mean someone can’t still use your previous number to piece together your identifying information. You’ll still have to keep a close eye on your finances, particularly those tied to your travels.
Another takeaway from this incident is the importance of not disclosing personally identifiable information unless absolutely necessary. It’s common for people to travel within the United States without ever having to provide their passport number while checking in or out of a hotel.
As if this wasn’t bad enough, there’s now the possibility of scams involving passports to worry about. When a high-profile event occurs, scammers emerge from their caves to prey on the unsuspecting populace. Be on the lookout for emails, texts, social media posts, and other forms of communication that prey on your anxieties about your passport number being hacked.
- Can You Leave the U.S. Without a Passport?
- What to Put Under Occupation for a Passport?
- What is an Issuing Country or Passport Issuing Country?
- What is the purpose of the sticker in a British passport?
- Does your passport number change when you renew it?
- DS 160 – Have you traveled to any countries/regions within the last five years?
- Can a U.S. citizen fly to Mexico without a passport?
- A 52-page United States passport vs. a Regular passport?
- Can you use your passport as an ID?
- What should you do with an expired passport?
- What Is a Passport Bio Data Page