What Can Someone Do With Your Passport Number?

What Can Someone Do With Your Passport Number?

Your passport serves as an identification document, carrying crucial information, like your passport number. But, your passport number can be misused if it gets into the wrong hands. So, what can someone do with your passport number?

This blog covers how your passport number can be misused, how to prevent it, and what to do if your passport number has been misused.    

What Can Someone Do With Your Passport Number?

If your passport number gets into the wrong hands, it can be misused and hence cause considerable damage. Some of the things a fraudster may do with your passport number are identity theft, forgery, and POI misuse. POI misuse can lead to unauthorized retrieval of money from your account.

1. Identity Misuse

Your passport number can be misused to steal your identity. Most countries now have entrance processes that can detect forgeries, and cheaper “fake” passports are only marginally useful for other forms of identity theft.

However, several nations do not scan the microchips or barcodes on passports; thus, even a cheap fake passport can be used by a criminal to enter those nations.

Remember that the damage from the identity theft depends on the information, other than your passport number, a fraudster has.

2. Fake Passports

Someone might misuse a passport number if they are in the business of making false passports with legitimate numbers. Therefore, if a fraudster obtains a copy of your passport, it might be misused to create fraudulent passports.

The new passports’ increased security features make this kind of scam less typical today, although it is still committed.

Customers who believe they are victims of passport identity theft may benefit from getting a new passport, but they will also be responsible for the revised document’s cost.

3. Unauthorized Access

A new technique of identity theft is the use of a scanned copy of your passport or a passport scan as a POI (Proof of Identity). Numerous companies and websites demand POI as a kind of identity verification. 

Some scammers who seek to use these online identities for illegal purposes can use the passport scan of another individual as proof. So, misuse of POI can result in unauthorized money withdrawals from your account.

On the dark web, passport data is offered for sale in three different formats: digital scans, passport creation templates, and genuine physical passports. Scans may cost $5 to $65; templates may cost $29 to $89; and the finished product may cost up to $5,000.

Therefore, if a fraudster gets their hands on a scan of your passport, they might sell it or use it themselves. As a result, you might become implicated in crimes about which you are ignorant.

What Does A Passport Contain?

Inside of a passport

Credit: Photo by ConvertKit on Unsplash 

Name, place of birth, date of birth, date of issue, expiration date, passport number, photo, and signature are commonly included in passports. Passports may also contain other information depending on the type of passport. The types of passports depend on the holder’s standing in their nation of origin.

The majority of the time, passports are compact booklets. Both the cover and the interior of the book convey information.

Older passports just had the information printed. But more recent passports have an electronic chip and/or a machine-readable zone (MRZ) on the data page, making them machine-readable too.

It’s crucial to keep in mind that passports issued by various nations typically have various designs and characteristics.

What Information Do The Different Pages Of Passport Contain?

  1. Several information about the passport is often displayed on the front cover. Name of the issuing nation, national emblem, description of passport-type, and biometric symbol are a few of these.
  2. The first page is typically a title page that identifies the nation and might also include other details.
  3. The data page is the next page. It contains the holder’s name, photo, signatures, nationality, date, and place of birth, passport number, issuance date, expiration date, and place of issue or issuing authority.
  4. A machine-readable zone (MRZ), located at the bottom of biometric passports or electronic passports, is required to provide information regarding the traveler’s identification.
  5. Following the data page, several blank pages can be stamped with entry and exit stamps from other nations.
  6. There might be some general travel advice at the end of the passport, as well as a page where you can list your emergency contacts.
  7. Typically, the rear cover is empty.

What Is A Passport Number?

The term “passport number” refers to the distinctive, identifying number on a passport. Your passport number is a nine-digit number that serves as a unique set of digits linked to your passport application and identifies the passport office that issued it.

For travel purposes, particularly foreign travel, it attests to the holder’s nationality and identity. 

The passport number is located on the first page of your passport, next to your passport photo and other identifying details. 

Why Is A Passport Number Important?

Particularly while traveling overseas, the passport number serves as both personal identity information and documentation. Thus, it carries significant importance. A passport’s number, in addition to all the security information it contains, is what connects it to a certain person.

The passport number is essentially a code that is stored in a database by the government.

Is Passport Number Confidential?Confidential

Credit: Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash 

Your passport number is not as private as the pin or password for your credit card. However, unless it is really necessary and you are certain that information is going to a reliable organization or person, you shouldn’t provide it. 

Even while passport numbers are not strictly confidential, you shouldn’t divulge them until absolutely necessary.

Check to see if the person requesting your passport number is related to a respectable organization or business before providing it.

When Can Someone Ask For Your Passport Number?

Your passport number is sometimes required in various circumstances as listed below:

  • International flight itineraries
  • Airline tickets
  • Foreign Bank transfer
  • School registration
  • Emergency form of ID
  • Authorization for work
  • Proof of citizenship
  • Driver’s license application
  • SIM card application
  • Bank account application
  • Proof of age at a club or restaurant

In certain cases, it could be unavoidable to not share your passport details. 

For instance, in the case of a bank transfer from a foreign country, passport details are required to identify the source of the transfer by the bank. This could be because the donor’s account is a foreign account (NRI, OCI, etc).

On the other hand, your passport can be used in certain situations that might otherwise require your birth certificate, state’s ID, or driver’s license.

Therefore, you can confirm with the authority demanding your passport details whether you can share some alternate ID or proof, or whether some other document can fulfill the purpose of your passport details.

How To Avoid Misuse Of Your Passport Number?

You can avoid misuse of your passport and passport number by using a cloud storage service to keep a virtual copy. Another thing you can do is hide irrelevant details so as to not give away too much information. You can also share alternate documents if possible.

The following advice may be useful to avoid misuse of your passport number:

1. Use Cloud Storage Service

Using a safe cloud storage provider, just send your friend a link to the file. Google Drive, Dropbox, and WIRED are all options. A scanned copy of your passport shouldn’t be included in the email message itself right away.

Once a file has been transferred, there is no way for you to stop it from being unintentionally deleted from the recipient’s inbox. Your passport scan is still in the recipient’s possession a year after their email was compromised.

The safest choice is to upload the file to a cloud storage platform. Even if you are merely asked for your passport number, you can type the required information on a different document and upload a PDF of that document to the cloud.

You can then send an email to someone with a link to the file.

You can then revoke access to the file if the recipient was successful in receiving and using it. This will place restrictions on the recipient’s ability to access the file.

Free cloud storage options with insufficient encryption and security should be avoided. Instead, carefully choose a trustworthy cloud storage provider. Free file-sharing services have to be avoided as well due to possible security hazards.

Some of the most well-liked cloud storage options include Dropbox and Google Drive.

2. Hide Irrelevant Information

Any information that is not absolutely necessary should be removed. Delete any extraneous details from a scanned copy of your passport. On the other side, tourist groups might not need details like your birth date, place of birth, passport issue date, or passport expiration date.

To reduce risk, if you’re sending a copy, you can omit this information.

3. Share Alternate Document

If not necessary, you can choose to share some alternate document that fulfills the purpose, be it for identification or verification. You can confirm with the authority demanding your passport details whether you can share some alternate ID or proof, or whether some other document can fulfill the purpose of your passport details.

In other words, it’s crucial to avoid sharing personally identifiable data unless it is absolutely essential. In fact, when checking in or out of a hotel, travelers frequently travel inside the U.S. without ever having to disclose their passport numbers.

What To Do When Someone Breaches Your Passport Number?

If your passport number has been compromised, it is unfortunate. Your passport number, together with your name and a number of other pieces of information, can be used by criminals. However, things aren’t as awful as they could be: Your passport number is distinct from your physical passport.

Moreover, US citizens need not be concerned that their passport number may be misused. No State Department records or a citizen’s government records can be accessed using a passport number.

Yet a passport number is information about you that criminals could use to attempt to pass for you.

1. Get a Replacement Passport

You might be given a replacement passport if you can prove that it was used for fraud or identity theft. Therefore, if only the passport number was stolen, hold off on replacing the document.

Unlike passport theft, identity theft is not initiated just by the passport number. So it’s possible that you won’t receive a free replacement passport. That implies that the cost of the new documents will be your concern.

2. Update Your Passport

One thing you can do is obtain a new passport. But, that will cost you money. Nonetheless, new passports have new identification numbers. So, your current one will no longer work.

If the document was going to expire and you intended to update it, you don’t need to wait if you can show that it was compromised. 

3. Beware of Fraudulent Emails

In the wake of a data breach, scammers frequently send phony “breach notification” emails to thousands of recipients. Your computer may become compromised by malicious links and documents, allowing hackers access to your system. 

More information, including names, passwords, credit card numbers, and other details, may also be requested by the fraudster. 

Don’t open any of the documents or links in those emails.

How To Keep Your Passport and Passport Number Safe While Traveling?

Since prevention is the key, you can keep your passport safe. And with that in mind, here are some suggestions to make sure your passport is safe:

1. Multiple Copies

You must make several copies of your passport and keep them all in separate luggage before you leave on your trip, just in case. Keep the Z category towards the bottom of your baggage to ensure its safety. Additionally, confirm that you’ve left one copy at home.

2. Leave It At The Place You’re Staying At

Once you arrive at your location, you must leave your passport at your hotel or wherever you stay and carry a duplicate of it in your possession. Hotels typically offer a lockable locker with a security code. Use it to keep your passport safe.

3. Passport Cover

Passport Cover

Credit: Photo by WanderLabs on Unsplash 

A good waterproof passport cover is a must-have if you have wanderlust, especially if you have a beach or other wet place on your bucket list. Water damage can, of course, render the information-based pages unreadable and need the replacement of your passport.

4. Be Aware Of Your Rights

You will obviously need your passport to get through airport security. However, you need to be aware of the locations where you will need to present both your original passport and a copy. Most of the time, if you have an international driver’s license, your license or a copy of your passport will be sufficient.

What To Do If You Lose Your Passport?

Here are step-by-step instructions for you to follow in the case of a lost or stolen passport.

1. Report The Loss Or Theft To U.S. Authorities

Reporting a stolen passport to the local police can be a good idea. But it’s also crucial to notify the American authorities of your lost or stolen passport.

You must report your lost passport. It can both aid in preventing identity theft and prevent someone from using it to conduct a crime.

2. Apply For A Passport Replacement (New Passport)

If you misplace your passport while traveling abroad, you must replace it right away to return home. You must replace it with a new passport before your vacation if you are at home but have travel arrangements in the near future.

Understanding Passport Renewal

When you go to apply for a passport renewal or replacement, which normally requires you to produce your current passport as part of the renewal procedure, you’ll need documentation of the loss. So, it’s crucial to report the loss as soon as possible.

You can request the help of the State Department’s Office of Overseas Citizens Services if you require assistance to renew your passport.

Both of these circumstances call for you to appear in person, either by visiting a passport office or an embassy or consulate abroad. If the offices are far apart, then this can take some time.

You can report it lost or stolen online using Form DS-64. But you have to show up in person to renew it or get a replacement. Depending on where you are and when you plan to travel, there are specific actions you must take to replace your lost passport. 

If you live in the United States, enter your ZIP code to find the closest passport acceptance facility.

If you need to apply for a replacement while traveling abroad, you will need a different type of government-issued documentation to confirm your identity, such as a driver’s license. You can help by making copies of your passport. But, you will still need to present valid government identification.

To apply for a new passport, you must fill out Form DS-11. Passport images that were recently taken are required.

3. Pay up

You will need to pay money for a new passport, even if your lost one wouldn’t have expired for years. Regular costs are charged. You can pay an extra cost to have it expedited if you’re in the United States.

The good news is that you won’t have to reapply and pay for the program if your old passport was linked to Global Entry. To update the Global Entry system with your new passport number after you get it, just sign in.

You will also need to update it with the information from your new document if you use the popular and significantly less expensive Mobile Passport app, which takes less time to apply.

4. Stay Put Until A Replacement Arrives

Unfortunately, you must have a passport to travel abroad. While there are several exceptions for utilizing a passport card, your passport card is also invalid once you report your passport as lost or stolen.

If you frequently lose your passport, the State Department may grant you a limited passport that is only good for a short while until you can return home and follow the procedures to obtain a new passport.

The entire passport renewal process will result in a passport number change.

5. Check Your Travel Insurance Benefits

If a police report can establish that a passport was stolen and not just lost, travel insurance may also aid to pay additional costs or airline change fees.

According to official statistics, it is believed that hundreds of thousands of travelers lose their passports each year. You won’t be able to travel abroad, which is the most evident issue that is brought about by losing your passport. 

On the other hand, if you are already abroad, you won’t be able to board a plane to return home. Therefore, if your passport number has vanished, follow the steps listed above to make sure you can get a new passport right away.

Final Words

Fraudsters may use your passport number to commit identity theft, forgery, and POI misuse if it falls into the wrong hands. Even while passport numbers are not strictly private, you shouldn’t disclose them until necessary. 

To decrease the risks involved in this case, you can employ cloud storage services, hide unimportant information, or think about not sharing it at all.

FAQs

Can Someone Find My Passport Number Without My Passport?

Besides you, nobody else can find your passport number without your passport. Unless the person who seeks to have your passport number has written it down somewhere, they can’t find it online or anywhere else (given that you don’t leave your passport in open).

Can Passport Numbers Be Shared?

Yes, passport numbers can be shared, but it is advised that you should share your passport number only if necessary. Passports (not exactly just passport number) are usually asked for sharing for identity verification purposes.

Can Passport Numbers Be Used for Identity Theft?

Yes, your passport number can be exploited to steal your identity. However, the scammer will require a little more than just your passport number to steal your identity. Depending on why they want to steal your identity, they may also require photographs and your signature.

Can Passport Numbers Change?

Regardless of whether you are getting your passport reissued or renewed, when you get a new passport, the passport number will be changed and the old passport number will not be valid. There is, however, a thin time window during which the old passport number is valid.

Where Is My Passport Number?

Your passport number is on the first page of your passport near your passport photo and other information. You can also ask for the passport number by calling the embassy once you have verified your identity, in case you are unable to locate it.

Can You Change Your U.S. Passport Number?

Your passport number can’t be changed specifically. Your passport will have a new number if it is reissued or renewed, though. You can put up a passport renewal application up to one year before the current one expires, but not earlier.

Furthermore, you can apply for a new passport renewal process if your personal information changes, it is lost or damaged, or its pages run out.

Your new passport will have a different number when you get it.

Each passport book has a unique number. The new document issued after passport renewal will have a different number than any that you have previously owned. 

The old passport number is no longer valid after the renewal or reissual of the passport.

Does Passport Number Change When You Change Your Name?

Yes, when you apply for a passport name change, a new passport is provided and the passport number change process also takes place. As there’s no U.S. passport renewal or amendment anymore, you will experience a passport number change with every new passport.

Swati Jaiswal

Swati Jaiswal is a dedicated traveler and an even dedicated individual who specializes in travel, digital marketing, & health and fitness niches. Passport stamps and coffee stains are her badges of honor.

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