9 million identities are stolen each year. This is an estimate from the FTC (US’ Federal Trade and Commission), and not quite the real one since many people don’t even report identity theft. One of the causes of not reporting is that some of them don’t know they’ve been victims.
It could certainly be a valid case with passport fraud that can go undetected for a long time. That may be one reason why passports have now become the most frequently attacked form of ID.
Let’s find out more about this fraud and what you can do to prevent it.
Data from Onfido’s Identity Fraud Report
Onfido organization is in the business of document fraud, checking millions of identity documents every year. According to Onfido’s fresh identity fraud report, passports have been fraudsters’ favorite documents to replicate.
Passports are now the most counterfeited document after identity cards, showing an interesting twist in scammers’ likings. At least in the US, an identity card has two sides, instead of passports issued worldwide that are a one-sided type of ID document. Additionally, a forged passport is way more difficult for authorities to trace and for you, as a victim, to realize someone has forged your passport.
No official alert system notifies you if someone stole your passport or used it to impersonate you. By comparison, your bank and your local social security administration notify you if they identify suspicious activity.
Still, the Onfido report concludes that fraudsters currently create a fake document from scratch instead of manipulating a legitimate ID, whether it’s a passport or another type of ID.
Interesting Statistics Related to Identity Theft
As part of identity theft schemes, stealing or replicating passports is a serious crime. Yet, some fraudsters have even marketed their business of forged passports on social media.
If you’re wondering how much is your passport’s worth, fraudsters sell passport data in three formats on the dark web:
- Digital scans of passport page, prices $5-$65
- Templates to create a genuinely looking passport, prices $29-$89
- Actual physical passport documents, price up to $5,000
Like all scams, frauds, or types of cyber-attacks, identity theft knew a steady increase since 2020, and the trend seems to go upwards. The average ID fraud reached 5.8% in 2020 and recorded 5.9% in 2021.
Here are other noteworthy statistics related to identity theft:
- Married women seem to be the most common victims of identity theft.
- In 2020, the 30 to 39-year-olds age group was the most frequently targeted for identity theft. This data debunked the norm where children under 19, young adults 20 to 29, and seniors over 60 are the most common victims of identity theft.
- In 2021, all identity document fraud increased by 57% compared to the previous year.
- Over the last two years, fraudsters have preferred to apply their identity theft strategies during the weekend; weekend attacks have increased by over 50% since 2019.
How to Prevent Passport Fraud
Scammers may require advanced skills to handle a passport fraud business, but data shows many engage in this activity, and plenty others are preparing to follow in their footsteps. This should be enough to take passport fraud seriously. And also, take into account that it’s often the link to many crimes like international terrorism or illegal immigration, among others.
Here’s what you can do to avoid passport fraud:
- Make at least two copies of your passport, one to carry with you when you travel and another one you can leave back home to someone you trust, a family member or friend.
- When travelling and including during transit, keep your passport with you at all times.
- Always try not to leave your passport down on a counter; it’s a habit that can make you forget you left it there, and you can end up losing it.
- When possible, keep your passport in your room’s or hotel’s safe, rather than just leave it somewhere in the room.
- If you lose your passport, report it immediately to a local police station.
What do you do to protect yourself against identity theft?
Let me know in the comments below.