When I was doing the research for this article the first reactions of everyone I spoke to was “pickpockets” and/or “money belts”. These are prefectly valid concerns but things have moved on in the last ten years and most of us are actually carrying contactless debit and credit cards. I will leave you to think for a second about what that means before I continue.
It is really hard to not expose yourself to the risk of identity theft when you are abroad. Most of us do not walk around with our passports in our pockets at home but we do when we are on holiday. As you can imagine there is no better document for the identity thief that a UK passport.
A UK passport is worth nearly £7000 on the ‘black market’
Not only does a UK passport have a cash value in its own right, they are highly valued by people trafficers and smugglers alike, but with a passport is is easy to use the photo to fake other key pieces of ID. If you passport is lost while you are in the UK you MUST report it to the police and complete a Lost or Stolen notification (LS10). You can download and print a LS10 form from here if you wish to key one to hand for your journey.
A UK passport is worth nearly £7000 on the ‘black market’ according to Privacy International. So how do you protect this document while you are away? The best place for it is in the hotel safe. Before you leave home either scan and print several copies or photocopy it. Keep a copy of your passport with your travel insurance documents and in your wallet or bag. As long as you can produce the passport number that is sufficient in most EU and European countries if you have other photo ID such as your driving license. If your travel insurance covers you for identity theft they often provide you with additional legal advice while you are away. Your first action should be always to contact the British Embassy or Consulate and you can find a list of them on the FCO website.
Emergency Travel Document
Once you have made contact with the Embassy they will can arrange for an Emergency Travel Document although there will be a fee for this. In some cases they can arrange for a fast track replacement passport to be flown out to you but this may well mean a delay in your travel, again your travel insurance should cover you for this.
As long as you have taken every reasonable precaution you should have nothing to worry about. Travel insurance is there for when things go wrong and although the travel insurers are not specialists in identity theft they do buy in the expert help you will need should you need it and you should not be left out of pocket should you become a victim.
For more information you should check the wording of any policy before you travel. More and more often now identity theft cover is being included as a standard feature rather than an additional (pay for) option and this is what you should be looking for.