Is handing over passports in hotels safe?

Are you risking identify theft when you hand over your passport in a hotel?

In many parts of the world, it is common practice for a hotel to request guests' passports, which will be photocopied, scanned or entered into a ledger.

This is a legal requirement since police and other authorities need to know who is in house at any particular time.

In the UK for example, the Immigration (Hotel Records) Order 1972 states "all hotels, must keep a record of the full name and nationality of guests over 16 years of age.

Aliens must also record the number and place of issue of their passport, their nationality and their next destination.

Records of this information must be kept for at least 12 months and be available for inspection by any police officer.

"If an unexpected event should occur on the premises such as a fire, a robbery or any other criminal act, it becomes essential for authorities to know who was registered at the time.

The guest register can also help locate people during traumatic events, such as the recent earthquake in Nepal.

While the personal details recorded in a passport would be useful to any identity thief, by themselves these details would not allow anyone to hack into your bank account, sell your house or otherwise impersonate you with fraudulent intent.

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There are many sources that an aspiring identity thief might use to obtain crucial information, including mail theft and fishing around in restaurant garbage bins to obtain details from diners' credit card payment slips, but the gold mine is your personal computer.

See also:

What is the best passport in the world for travellers?

Is this the world's coolest passport?

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