For many people, the most nerve-wracking part of the passport and visa application process is handing over copies of their old passport, their driver’s license, and other personal information. If you get a passport for your child, you may even have to send in their original birth certificate! If you’ve ever dealt with identity theft, this can be a scary experience.
Identity theft is unfortunately a common problem, but you can rest assured that stealing a passport application is NOT one of the known ways that fraudsters steal people’s identities. If you complete your application in a passport office under the authority of the Department of State, your application will be handled with the utmost care by a professionally trained passport agent. If you work with a third-party passport company, you need to make sure that the company is legitimate, but doing that isn’t hard.
If you decide to get expedited passports or expedited visas through a different company, a little common sense can help keep your identity safe. Check the company’s accreditation with the BBB, and don’t work with any company that doesn’t let you get on the phone with a real person. Basically, if something seems fishy, move on. It’s not worth the risk.
Fortunately, it isn’t all that easy to steal a person’s identity with just their driver’s license or their passport. The big fear with stolen or lost passports is that dangerous people will use them to travel. You obviously need to be careful with your passport and any government issued ID, but perhaps even more importantly, you need to protect your credit card numbers and – above all else – your social security number.
Your social security number and credit card numbers are the main ways that most fraudsters rip people off. By dumpster diving for old credit card bills and bank statements, a person can make online purchases with your credit cards, which can cause a lot of trouble.
Here are some other top ways that fraudster’s steal people’s identities:
- Unsecure websites – If you buy something from a website that doesn’t bother to protect your information, a hacker can intercept your info and steal it. Make sure any website you buy from has an active SSL certificate.
- Phishing – This is when someone sends you an email that looks like it’s from a company that you do business with, but it’s actually a fake.
- Mail theft – If your mailbox is unsecured, you risk someone coming by and stealing your bank statements, credit card applications, paychecks, and medical bills. With this information, it’s all too easy to steal someone’s identity.