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How to Protect Your Identity if Your Passport is Lost or Stolen

A hand stealing a passport from a black bag

Losing your passport can be a stressful experience, especially when you’re far from home. The fear of identity theft adds another layer of anxiety. 

But don’t worry, we’re here to help. For over 20 years, we have helped readers navigate passport emergencies just like yours. This guide will provide you with clear and actionable steps to protect your identity if your passport is lost or stolen.

Step-by-Step Guide

Step 1: Confirm Your Passport is Missing

Before you panic, double-check your belongings. Look through your luggage, hotel room, or vehicle. It is important to note that once you move to the next step and report a passport lost or stolen, your lost passport will no longer be valid. After that, even if you find your missing passport, it will be useless.

When you are certain your passport is truly lost, proceed to the next step.

Step 2: Report the Loss or Theft to Police and Your Embassy or Consulate

Report your lost or stolen passport immediately to local police and obtain a police report. Even if you are abroad, this document may be required when you apply for a replacement passport or report identity theft.

If you are abroad, you must also notify the nearest embassy or consulate about your situation. You won’t be able to re-enter the United States without a valid passport, so you will need to get one issued quickly. Officials in the U.S. Embassy or Consulate have the knowledge and authority to guide you through the official process of replacing your passport.

Step 3: Cancel Your Passport

Contact the United States Department of State to report the loss or theft and cancel your missing passport. This will prevent anyone else from using it and committing identity fraud.

Step 4: Monitor Your Accounts

Keep an eye on your financial accounts for any suspicious activity. If you notice anything unusual, report it to your bank immediately. They may advise you to file an additional police report should there be illegal or unauthorized activity.

Step 5: Replace Your Passport

Once you’ve taken steps to protect your identity, apply for a new passport at your nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. If you are abroad, you will likely be able to get a replacement as quickly as 24-72 hours. If you are state-side, you will go through the typical procedures for obtaining a new passport.

For more, follow our complete guide to replacing a lost passport fast.

Understanding the Risks of Identity Theft

A lost or stolen passport can lead to identity theft. Fraudsters can use the personal information contained in your passport to open bank accounts, obtain credit cards, or even commit crimes in your name.

While improved security measures like two-factor authentication and biometric verification make it easier to keep your personal information secure, it is important to remember that a passport is an official, internationally recognized identification document. Criminals can use your passport information in a variety of ways to steal your identity.

Here are some possible results of identity theft:

  • Financial Impact: Fraudsters can open new accounts, credit cards, and loans in your name. Identity fraud cost Americans nearly $56 billion in 2022.
  • Credit Score Damage: Your credit score is a key in determining your borrowing power, but it has other negative impacts as well. These can include your ability to rent an apartment or buy a house. These financial hardships caused by identity theft can last for months or years after your personal information is exposed.
  • Loss of Healthcare Benefits: Bad actors can use your personal information to secure health care in your name. This medical identity theft can make it harder or impossible for you to get or maintain your medical coverage.
  • Account Takeovers: Hackers can use details from your passport to gain access to your email and other accounts. This can open up additional opportunities to exploit your identity.
  • Criminal charges: If a criminal provides your passport as their identification, it can cause headaches to clear your name. There are legal hoops you would need to jump through to prove your identity, innocence, and lack of involvement with the crime.
  • Emotional Toll: There is a lot of work that must be done after your identity has been stolen. This can be extremely stressful and anxiety-inducing.

To avoid issues like these, it’s crucial to act swiftly and follow the steps outlined above immediately after you discover your passport is missing.

Conclusion

Losing a passport is stressful, but following the steps in this guide can help protect your identity and bring you peace of mind. Remember, the key is to act quickly and stay vigilant. So, whether your passport is lost, stolen, or otherwise missing, following these steps will ensure that your identity is safe and secure.

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About the Author: For over 20 years, the U.S. Passport Service Guide team has helped hundreds of thousands of travelers with their travel document questions and shared advice about how to make traveling abroad simpler, safer, and more enjoyable.

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