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US travelers- how secret are passport numbers?

Atlanta, Georgia
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US travelers- how secret are passport numbers?

My mother in law is going to BA with a us travel agent sponsored tour for bout 25 people from three local cities.. the "guide" going with the group has asked each traveler to tell her the passport number of each person. what would she need that for? Is it safe to email numbers like that ? what can the "bad guys" do with your passport info?

Melbourne, Australia
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for Perth, Antarctic Adventures
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1. Re: US travelers- how secret are passport numbers?

You quote your passport number for many many variety of reasons through life. Really no need for paranoia.

San Clemente...
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for Buenos Aires, Argentina
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2. Re: US travelers- how secret are passport numbers?

A travel agent may need the number to book transport tickets, hotel reservations,etc which require the entry of a passport number. This is standard in many foreign countries.

Just don't send your Social Security Number.

Saratoga Springs, NY
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3. Re: US travelers- how secret are passport numbers?

Also, check with agent regarding reciprocity fee. Many places/people forget to thee Americans about this...cost is $160pp at present.

Buenos Aires...
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for Buenos Aires
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4. Re: US travelers- how secret are passport numbers?

Ahhh, the numbers. I tried my best to remember my DNI number so I could use it like a true Porteño ... hopeless. My memory, she is fading away :)

Mi Wuk Village...
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5. Re: US travelers- how secret are passport numbers?

Passport numbers aren't like social security numbers. They can't be used for ID theft. On the other hand..guard your passport. A US passport is a very valuable commodity. Without details it can change someone into a US citizen.

Porto, Portugal
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6. Re: US travelers- how secret are passport numbers?

I don’t see anything wrong with the guide asking passport numbers, I think is sensible for the tour company to have some kind of ID number, especially in case of an emergency. I believe hotels, for instance, are compelled by law to ask for this information, maybe there’s similar legislation for tour operators. I wouldn’t worry much for this.

Nice, France
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for Buenos Aires, Nice
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7. Re: US travelers- how secret are passport numbers?

Verbally giving a passport number isn't so bad depending on the purpose of its being requested. In the case of a travel agent who's arranging your international transport, it sounds fine. When in doubt about the reason, ask why it's being requested. The reason has to be better than "this is just how the company's system works".

I wouldn't provide anyone a copy to keep of the passport page describing you because that contains your date of birth with which somebody who knows how to can access all your private information in your government's databanks. And never give your birthdate for a consumer purchase in shops or online, or to become a "member" of some online "club" whatever it is, or so as to be sent 'newsletters'. Too many websites are spuriously asking for this. So, I falsify mine. Once in a while when this doesn't work, I abandon a website altogether.

Abilene, Texas
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for Buenos Aires
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8. Re: US travelers- how secret are passport numbers?

"So, I falsify mine (birth date). " I thought all women did this? :)

On a more serious note,

In addition to the reasons cited above, some Jewish sites require TA's to submit the passport numbers of persons in tour groups prior to a visit.

Mystic, Connecticut
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9. Re: US travelers- how secret are passport numbers?

Passport numbers are required by all airlines for international flights before you can check in. similarly for cruise ships, tours crossing borders etc.

10. Re: US travelers- how secret are passport numbers?

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