David Papp Blog

Opening your Passport can Lead to Identity Theft

Over 100 countries in the world use e-passports. The US has for a number of years. Canada is just coming on board as one of the last G8 nations to do so.

ePassports contain embedded computer chips. More specifically an RFID chip (Radio Frequency Identification). These chips can contain information such as name, date of birth, gender, and digital photograph. They can also contain biometric information such as iris scans and fingerprints.

Simply opening up your passport and being in the vicinity of an RFID reader opens you up to the possibility of having your information scanned.

Unfortunately passports need to be frequently taken out and opened when traveling for customs, hotels, car rentals, etc.

It is recommended that you store these new passports in a special sleeve to block RFID signals.

Many other cards now being issued contain RFID chips, example Nexus.

Do you agree with storing personal information in RFID chips?

20 thoughts on “Opening your Passport can Lead to Identity Theft”

  1. I had no idea this even existed. That’s a scary thought. They should make an encryption tool! Where would we be able to purchase a sleeve to protect our passport information?

  2. Wow, I had no idea about this. That’s pretty scary and unnerving. I’ve used my passport a lot, as I’m a frequent traveler, and I also use it to prove my age when I get asked for ID in some places.

  3. I just checked and even my country can use e-passports these days. Identities being stolen with such ease is scary, however social media already already has its paws on our basic information (and maybe more). I’ve got mixed feelings over e-passports but if I had one, I’d take precautions to make it harder for criminals to get my info. And thanks btw for that info on protective sleeves, David.

    Now, do I agree on strong personal information being stored on such chip? I want to say no and fortunately, my country still hasn’t made e-passports mandatory.

  4. That’s one of those things that scare me. I don’t want no government to be able to track me all the time but that’s exactly where everything is leading too.

    I just hope people will stand up against it. If that’s not possible or just not enough to stop it there should be invented something so people can do something against it on their own.

  5. I’ve heard about this before. I’d not really given it a thought since I was and still use the old passport. But, one thing that can be deducted is the more technology is advancing, the more our lives are being overtly transparent to the Government. And inadvertently prone to danger as well. I think there should be a limit to e-storage of personal informations.

    • In the end there is a limit to how much information about you there is saved digitally. That’s the limit you set. Sure, an online life is becoming less and less optional, but the bottom line is, you’re still in control. You can’t blame other people, or the government, for using what you put out there. There are no written rights when it comes to the extent digital information and it’s use, and while this is unfortunate, it’s much better for people to understand that rather than live with a false sense of privacy.

  6. Wow, thanks for posting this article, as although I do not have my passport yet, it should be arriving in the mail sometime soon. Like someone else stated, I have never really heard of identity theft by way of a passport. I’ll make sure to keep this in mind when I get my passport.

  7. Thank you. This article has been extremely informative. I think the risk of identity theft due to the use of RFID technology is not getting enough attention.

    I was aware of potential problems with passports and RFID readers and I do have an RFID blocking passport sleeve. But that said, I know there are other cards that use the RFID technology and off hand I’m not sure if I have any such. If I do they are vulnerable.

    So this reminds me that we need to stay apprised of this and know what we own that is using this technology and take precautions.

    And I agree with jellyfish and CyberGenius; the increasing governmental monitoring of our lives is disturbing. It’s incremental and there is no end in sight. That also concerns me greatly.

  8. I didn’t even know such passports existed. As far as I’m aware my country has not implemented this yet. And reading this I hope they never do.

    This sounds pretty scary and unnecessary. It seems like it’s only increasing the risk rather than reduce it.

  9. So there are special sleeves that block rf id signals? I did not know that. So it necessitates me buying a special wallet or are the sleeves sold separately? How interesting. Once I get my new passport I’ll have to look into one of these sleeves as I have been a victim of identity theft multiple times. Thank you for the tip, David.

  10. No, I don’t. And I am actually sure that my country is not on of the ones one the list. Could you show the list to us to prove that?

  11. This is kind of scary… I’m glad I don’t have one of these kind of passports. Although then again my passport expired a long time ago…

  12. I am not sure how I feel about this. It is as other people have said a scary thought. I wouldn’t want my every moved tracked and that is what would scare me about this. It seems interesting, but then again, I am sure people who are great with fraud, identity theft and even hacking, could figure out how to get around this.

  13. Have I been living under a rock the whole time? How come I’ve never heard of ePassports before? Or maybe I just don’t travel that much to keep notice. But after reading this I don’t think I would want to have one.

  14. That’s why I’m not a really huge fan of e-anything. It’s really easy to hack into things nowadays, all you basically need is a computer and you can pretty much destroy a persons life.

  15. I have been quite aware with RFID’S but from what I can remember, RFID’s can only be scanned if the receiver or scanner is tuned to the same frequency as the RFID chip, just like how you cannot use a hotel key card from another room to open your room. Since countries have been implementing this for quite sometime, I do expect that the level of security has been studied thoroughly especially to those who have malicious intent.

    First level should be, the frequency used is not a common one. For Electronic Engineers, we know that if a receiver is a few frequencies off (.01 hz), receiving of information will be harder, so use a frequency that is very unique to the country or passport ( unless there is a defined standard for e-passportd frequency, this should not be published and only a handful of manufacturers should know). Second level would be decrypting the information. If in the event that that the malicious person had a way to tune in to the right frequency, decrypting of the information should not use the standard decrypting procedure of data, that way they will still not be able to use the information that they get from the scanned RFID.

    But then again, there is no harm in taking precaution like wearing an RFID blocking sleeve, which by the way should come would the passport as it is being released from the government office handling it.

  16. I heard about epassports but refuse to use it. I always felt unsafe with any type of technology that allows my personal information to be seen.

  17. It’s amazing on how many simple things are now being embedded with RFID chips now. Credit cards, passports, even billboard ads are starting to use NFC tags for interaction. It’s pretty cool, but also scary. You can do almost anything with an RFID or NFC tag, and say modifying one of these chips to run malicious code on a computer could be done. None of the info is really encrypted at all, and anybody can intercept it if they so much as feel like it.

  18. They wanted to try that in my country, but I guess they have forgotten about it already, since they haven’t even mentioned it again. I honestly hope they forget it for good, I never liked the idea of that kind of technology being used for this. I’d not feel safe.

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