Handle With Care: How to Properly Dispose of a Deceased Loved One's Passport and Other Helpful Tips
The IRS reports that approximately 2.5 million deceased people are the victims of identity theft each year. Taking over someone's identity allows a criminal to apply for loans, open credit cards, file fake tax returns to claim a bogus refund, and so much more. Don't let your loved one become a statistic! Take action to secure your loved one's passport and reduce the chances of this happening to your family.
According to the State Department, as of 2021, there were over 145 million passports in circulation in United States, which correlates to roughly 45% of the population having a passport. Those numbers have likely soared in 2022 as people celebrate lifted Covid-related travel restrictions. In fact, the United States Travel Association reported last week that travel spending during the month of July had reached levels last seen in 2019. And that means passports and passport numbers can be hot targets for identity theft fraudsters (just ask Marriott which saw hackers steal over 25 million encrypted and unencrypted passport numbers from its servers in 2019). So, it's important to know how to protect yourself and your loved ones from identity theft.
PROTECTING YOUR DECEASED LOVED ONE:
If your loved one had a passport, the best way to protect against information from the passport being used to steal your loved one's identity is to properly dispose of the passport. That means you need to reach out to the U.S. Department of State Consular Lost and Stolen Passport Unit or CLASP. CLASP is able to cancel the passport, update internal records to reflect that the individual is deceased, and even return the passport book to the family in case you or other family members want to keep the stamped pages or photo as a memento. If the family prefers to have the passport destroyed, then CLASP will do that too.
In order to properly dispose of the passport, send the passport plus the individual's Death Certificate and a letter stating your request (especially with respect to destruction versus returning) to:
U.S. Department of State
Consular Lost and Stolen Passport Unit (CLASP)
44132 Mercure Circle
P.O. Box 1227
Sterling, VA 20166-1227
When it comes to protecting yourself against identity theft, CLASP is once again the answer. Should you lose your passport or suspect that your passport has been stolen, it is important that you file a report immediately! Start with CLASP's online tool and navigate to the "Report Lost or Stolen" tab. From there, you can choose how you would like to complete the process (online, by mail, or in person).
NEED A PASSPORT?
If you live in Wake County and need to get a passport, then we should note that you now have another option aside from going to the Post Office. The Wake County Register of Deeds office began accepting passport applications in June 2022. They have passport forms available and will also be able to take your official passport photo. Read the details here.
Before you travel, bookmark this post so that you have the contact for CLASP at your fingertips. Then, sit back, enjoy the ride, and rest easy knowing that your passport—and those of your deceased loved ones—are in good hands.
Phone: (919) 678-5761