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Fraud

Equifax urges holidaymakers to keep their passports safe

By CreditMan Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Identity and Passport Service has revealed that more than 60,000 Britons reported their passport lost or stolen abroad in the last year. Leading identity fraud expert, Equifax, is particularly concerned about these figures as it highlights how useful a passport could be to a fraudster.

“The value of an individual’s passport should not be under-estimated”, warns Neil Munroe, External Affairs Director, Equifax. “A fraudster only needs three items of personal information to be able to steal an individual’s identity and start to perpetrate crime in their name. And, of course, a passport is a perfect place to start and potentially easy pickings for fraudsters when holidaymakers are away from home.

“ID and credit card fraud is a very real threat for consumers – especially when they are abroad. It’s essential, therefore, that they take sensible precautions to protect themselves. Armed with the right knowledge, consumers can help minimise the risk of fraud and take fast action if they do become victims.”

The power of a passport to fraudsters was reinforced by Sarah Rapson, IPS chief executive, last week when the new figures were revealed. She said: "It is vital that people take care of their passports, both at home and abroad. Passports are increasingly attractive documents to organised criminals and hijacking someone else's identity can help facilitate a wide range of very serious crimes."

Equifax advises that holidaymakers take great care of their passport, whilst travelling, as well as put it in their hotel safe or safety deposit box as soon as they arrive at their destination. Plus it advises anyone who is concerned they may be a victim of ID fraud or theft to obtain a copy of their Equifax Credit Report.

Tackling the threat of identity theft and fraud, Equifax Identity Watch Pro gives consumers unlimited instant, easy online access to their latest credit file, with automatic alerts within 24 hours of key changes to their credit report. It costs £7.50 per month. Or for just £2.99 per month, Equifax Identity Watch Lite makes monitoring a credit report easy by automatically alerting the individual within seven days of key changes.

Neil Munroe is available for interviews and comment on this issue.

TIPS FOR HOLIDAYMAKERS TO AVOID FRAUD ABROAD

Taking the right precautions can significantly reduce the chance of becoming a victim of ID fraud:

• Protect your personal information, especially passport, at all times

• Always remember to report the loss or theft of identification documents as soon as possible

• Do not give strangers personal information, including your contact details

• If you need to use an internet café to access social networks or online bank accounts ensure you protect your passwords

*IPS Passport data – released 6/8/10

www.equifax.com