UK Cracks Down on Passport Fraud

Identity theft is an increasing problem in the United Kingdom. One of the easiest ways for fraudsters to create fake identities is to obtain a lost or stolen passport. In recent years, tens of thousands of U.K. passports were reported as lost or stolen by their owners.
With this statistic in mind, the U.K. Passport Office has launched a national campaign to tackle the problem of lost and stolen passports. This campaign is aimed particularly at students and other young people who often use their passports for age verification to enter nightclubs and bars.
Using these highly valuable passports as a form of age identification at bars and clubs puts their owners at risk. It is easy for a passport to be lost or stolen in these environments and to potentially fall into criminal hands.
UK Introduces PASS Cards as Alternate Form of ID
PASS, the UK’s Proof of Age Accreditation Scheme, is one of the recent measures taken to counter this risk. In this program, users are issued a PASS photo identification card by a diverse group of card issuers.
Immigration Minister Robert Goodwill says young people face a higher risk of losing their passport because they often use it as a form of age verification. He noted, “A passport is a highly valuable document. If it gets lost or stolen, not only does it cost the holder money to replace it, but it can fall into the hands of criminals unless it is handed in and cancelled.”
Goodwill added, “We are working with a number of stakeholders including retailers, licensed premises [pubs], police, local authorities and students, to communicate that there are better ways to prove your age, such as the PASS card.”
As part of the PASS campaign, the Passport Office is asking anyone who finds a lost passport to immediately return it to a postage-free address so that the passport can be cancelled.
The U.K. Home Office endorsed the PASS plan. PASS is funded by trade organizations, including the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers and the British Beer and Pub Association.
Fake UK Passports Continue to Be a Security Problem
Fake British passports convincing enough to pass through airport security continue to be sold on the dark Web. Some vendors even claim they can add the buyers to the national passport database.
Vendors claim their passports contain biometric data and RFID chips, and can fool airport customs officials. They are sold anonymously for bitcoin currency and cost anywhere from $500 to more than $2,000.
One high-profile example of passport fraud occurred when two Iranians boarded Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in 2014 using passports stolen in Thailand. While the offending individuals had no links to terrorism, the creation of these passports and their subsequent successful use was a major breach in security.
In addition to passport use by criminals, people with stolen and lost passports can also commit major crimes such as identity theft. With a stolen or lost passport, a criminal can hack into a bank account and obtain access to restricted areas.
To raise awareness of the problem, the PASS campaign will include a social media drive in 2017.


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