Survey: Mobiles more precious than passports

Britons cherish their iPods, jewellery and mobile phones more than their passports according to the latest research conducted for the Identity and Passport Service (IPS). Despite the fact that over half of those surveyed believed that passports were worth more than GBP500 to criminals on the black market, many admit they don’t always take great care of them.

Only 22% of adults surveyed said they keep their passport locked away.

When it comes to iPods, jewellery and other valuables, 28% said they are locked away and another 44% said they were kept securely.

Fortunately, only 1% of people said that they keep their valuables in their underwear drawer.

The survey also highlighted that many adults saw reporting the theft of a mobile phone as a higher priority than their passport. Almost eight out of ten (79%) said they would get in touch with their mobile phone company on the day of the burglary to report their phone being stolen whereas only 64% said they would take immediate action to report the loss of their passport. Almost everyone, (97%) said they would report stolen credit cards immediately.

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IPS Executive Director Bernard Herdan said:

“Passports are often not seen as valuable so get left on a sideboard or put in a file. However, to a thief they are far more valuable than many gadgets and are likely to get stolen in a burglary if not securely locked away.

“Your passport is a key identity document and must be looked after.

Identity fraud is one of Britain’s fastest growing crimes, enabling other crimes such as illegal immigration, money laundering, people trafficking and terrorism.

“A stolen passport should always be reported immediately to minimise the risk of it being used as part of ongoing criminal activity.”

Thankfully, British travellers are more security conscious with their passports when they are away from home. More than half (58%) put their passport in a safe in the hotel when abroad, 8% leave it in a suitcase, 24% carry it with them and 6% hide it in their room. Older people are more likely to carry passports with them - 32% of over 55s.

Only a fifth of people (21%) keep a copy of their passport to help in the event of it being lost or stolen. This rises to 27% of those over 55. However, a larger number (37%) do keep a separate copy of their passport number. Few people make it easier for themselves to get a new passport in the event of it being lost or stolen by keeping a photocopy.

IPS has issued these tips on how to keep your passport safe:

* Take two photocopies of your passport before your holiday. Leave one with a relative or friend and take the other with you, keeping the copy separate from the original.

* Keep your passport with you when travelling to your destination.

Keep it in your hand luggage or in a zipped pocket. Know where it is at all times so that it can be produced promptly when asked for.

* Think carefully about where you keep your passport once you arrive.

Think about what might be the safest option according to your surroundings.

* Be wary if ever you are asked to surrender your passport. While some foreign officials may ask for your passport, as may some hotels, check with your travel operator or the British consulate whether or not this is standard procedure.

* Should your passport be stolen or lost while abroad report it to the local police and get in touch with the nearest British consulate or embassy for further advice. The British Consul can issue an emergency passport if necessary.

Details of passports reported lost or stolen are stored in the IPS ‘Lost, Stolen and Recovered Passport Database’. Launched in December 2003, this now has records of some 700,000 UK passports reported lost or stolen. This information is shared with border control authorities and, through Interpol, with 184 countries worldwide to stop people travelling on lost or stolen passports.
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