Every year, thousands of British nationals report their passport lost or stolen, and now The Foreign & Commonwealth Office has launched a new campaign, #passportaware, to highlight how easy it is to get your passport nicked abroad.And it's not just about your bag being stolen, or your hotel room being accessed; con artists are using far more clever techniques to take your passport. In a video compilation, James Freedman, a fraud prevention expert reveals four incredibly sneaky ways people are stealing passports.
SCAM 1: Posing as a police officer
In this clip, James and a female companion pose as 'undercover' police officers, with a fake badge. They ask two unsuspecting tourists with suitcases to see some sort of identification before James hands the passports over to his companion to 'check,' and the two walk off.
SCAM 2: Fake bird poo
In this clip, James smears a white substance on to the back of a man's jacket, before informing him that he has 'bird poo' on him. He then offers a tissue and some water, and removes the man's jacket while taking his passport out of his pocket simultaneously.
SCAM 3: At the hotel reception
When we check-in to a hotel, we're usually all over the place, preoccupied with ensuring our room details are all correct. However James proves that your passport isn't even safe on the hotel desk, pretending to pass something to the receptionist while stealing the hotel guest's passport at the same time.
SCAM 4: At a restaurant
If you think your bag or jacket hanging over your chair is an easy way of you keeping an eye on your belongings, don't be fooled. James proves how easy it is for him to sit behind you and slip his hand into your pocket.
Top tips for keeping your passport safe:
- Be aware of your surroundings and wary of strangers who take an unusual amount of interest in you.
- A damaged passport cannot be used for travel, so look after it and keep it safe.
- Lock your passport in a safe if you have access to one.
- Make two photocopies of your passport, leaving one with friends or family and taking the second with you.
- For certain countries, your passport must be valid for six months after the date you travel - check the entry requirements before you go.
- Ensure you fill in the emergency details/next of kin page before you go.