Saturday 25 March 2017

WATCH: Four top scams to steal your passport (and how to avoid them)

Travel tips & advice

Pól Ó Conghaile

Pól Ó Conghaile

A passport is one of the most valuable documents we own, so it's worth taking extra steps to keep it safe.

That's advice the UK Foreign Office drums home in a new video revealing four of the most common scams targeting travellers and their passports (above).

21,000 British passports were lost or stolen in 2015, the FCO says, and Independent.ie Travel understands that thousands of Irish passports are stolen every year.

Most holidaymakers enjoy trouble-free trips, but valuable time and money can be lost if emergency travel documents (ETDs) and replacement passports are required.

“With identity theft on the rise, the actual cost of losing your passport could be thousands of pounds," says fraud and stealth crime expert, James Freedman, who worked on the FCO video.

"Criminals and con-men are always evolving the tricks they use to target tourists, but a few simple precautions will really help you to stay safe," he adds.

"Trust your instincts and be aware of anyone invading your personal space.”

Six tips for keeping your passport safe

1) Be aware

Be aware of your surroundings and always be wary of strangers who take an unusual amount of interest in you.

2) Be careful when you carry

'Don't carry your passport with you unless absolutely necessary,' says the Department of Foreign Affairs (dfa,ie/travel). 'If you need to carry personal ID, bring a photocopy of your passport or passport card.'

3) Be smart with rental cars

Never leave passports unattended in hire cars - thieves specifically target holiday rentals for this purpose, according to the FCO.

4) Make copies

Make two photocopies of your passport – leave one with friends or family and take the second with you. 'Consider emailing yourself copies of key documents, so that you can access them from any computer,' the DFA adds.

5) Check validity

For certain countries your passport must be valid for six months after the date you travel – check the entry requirements before you go

6) Keep your passport in sight

If you put bags or your passport down - anywhere from a shop to an airport or hotel counter, they should always be in your line of sight.

Meanwhile, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Charlie Flanagan, has invited users of the Irish Passport Service to participate in an online customer service survey.

The survey, at dfa.ie/passport-survey, will help improve customer service and the production and delivery of Irish passports, he says.

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