What do a telescope, CD, and WiFi all have in common? They are all Dutch inventions! The Dutch are known for their cool technology and innovation, and this identity protecting passport cover is no exception. Spy-Fy’s new passport cover is helping protect Dutch citizens from identity fraud due to passport copying. Let’s face it, your passport is an essential item when traveling or in situations in which proof of ID is necessary. As such, it has become commonplace for many institutions, businesses, and companies to ask for a copy of your passport when traveling or doing business. However, the large scale copying of passports has led to a big privacy problem: identity fraud. Think about all the sensitive, personal information in your passport. If a copy of your passport gets into the wrong hands, criminals may wish to steal your identity to commit fraud. Spy-Fy’s product helps protect your passport and identity so that you can choose who can make a full copy of your passport.
This Dutch passport cover helps prevent identity fraud; could this work for other countries too?
- Large scale passport copying increases the chances of identity fraud
- The Passport Cover by Spy-Fy keeps others from making a full copy of your passport
- The QR code system has laid the groundwork for this solution to be adapted on a global scale
A global problem: Identity fraud from passport copying
Many places may require a scan of your passport, for example, when you are checking into a hotel. This scan may then be saved in the hotel’s system. However, if the computer of that hotel lacks sufficient security, data breaches could leave the stored passport scans vulnerable. In early 2019, Marriott International faced negative press in the news after 5 million passport numbers were stolen by hackers. Researchers from Comparitech investigated how cybercriminals use stolen passport scans and how much people will pay for these scans on the black market. Comparitech found that on average, a digital passport scan can cost $14.71; with additional proof of identification, passport scans can cost up to $61.27. Check out their full study on this link. When a criminal secures a full passport copy, they can commit identity fraud to pull off several different scams such as opening up a bank account in the name of that passport holder, account recovery scams, cryptocurrency exchanges, creation of fake passports, and more. Due to the identity fraud risks posed by passport copying, the Netherlands has some restrictions on passport copying. Spy-Fy’s Passport Cover helps Dutch citizens to protect their passport by following the advice from the Dutch government.
Passport copying, identity fraud, and the Netherlands
In the Netherlands, many rules have been put into place to protect Dutch citizens from identity fraud. The identity fraud and document expertise page from the Dutch Ministry of Defence clarifies that although many businesses may ask for a copy of your passport or ID, it is actually against the law to make a full copy a Dutch passport in most cases unless the business or institution is included in the list of exceptions (for example, a bank may have a legitimate reason for copying your ID). The Dutch government recommends its citizens to cover their Citizen Service Number and obscure parts of the passport photo when copying their passport. This policy by the Dutch government is put into place to prevent large scale passport copying because this could lead to increased identity fraud. With Spy-Fy’s Passport Cover, the Dutch passport can be copied with sensitive information obscured.
Product Review: Spy-Fy Passport Cover
- 13.56 MHz RFID protection to protect the passport from electronic pickpocketing (the unwanted digital reading of your passport)
- The stripes over the images obscure part of the photos to prevent others from making a complete copy of the Dutch passport
- BSN number is obscured (the Dutch version of a social security number)
- A security sticker – this lets you know when someone has removed the passport from its cover
- A QR code which refers to www.passportprivacy.org
- There are also extra pockets that could be used for holding cards, money, or a boarding pass. Not a privacy-related feature, but it could come in handy!
Could this be a global solution for identity fraud?
Although this product has been designed for the Dutch passport, the advantages are clear from a privacy perspective. Many times, when you hand your passport over for a scan or for safekeeping, someone could quickly and discretely copy your passport for their own use. However, with the security sticker, if the passport is removed from this Passport Cover, you would immediately know that someone has made a full scan without your permission and that you may be at risk for identity fraud. The RFID protection can protect passports from remote readings. The covering of the photos and the BSN helps to ensure that scans that are taken are not complete, so even if a hotel or other business has a digital copy of your passport, the copy they hold is not complete and is, therefore, less useful to cybercriminals.
An interesting element to this passport cover is the QR code which links to www.passportprivacy.org. It is possible that many people might have questions about this product when encountering it. This website has multiple language pages explaining why the passport is in the cover, why the cover should not be removed, and what should be done in case someone wishes to remove the cover. With this QR code reference to the passport privacy website, if someone doesn’t understand why the passport is covered, the information is readily accessible. While this is currently set up for the Dutch passport, if this product was expanded to include other countries, this could be easily adapted to explain the rights of passport holders from around the world. With the privacy-protecting benefits of the Spy-Fy Passport Cover already clear for Dutch citizens, could this passport cover work on a global scale to prevent passport copying related identity fraud? Let Spy-Fy know what you think!