The first U.S. passports issued to a few number of people led by Benjamin Franklin on an important mission to France were single sheets of one-sided paper with a validity of 3 to 6 months. And obviously those passports were not powerful enough to protect the holder’s from being identity theft. Any forger could take advantage of the weak spots on those papers.
But the time has been changed a lot – with the advancement in technology, counterfeiting passports is now next to impossible. The days of forged passports are gone. Moreover, the idea of passing through the immigration checkpoint without having travel documents come under scrutiny is simply absurd. Nevertheless, government takes not risk and by all means stays ahead of the game to protect the identity of the passport-holders through Holograms, RFID, Font and Hidden Ink.
Holograms – Look at your passport identification page, you might notice a thin film covering your photo and personal data – this is a transparent hologram overlay and a reliable way to prevent counterfeiting. Though it’s been effectual since being standard on passports for last few decades, the complexities make is difficult to train the immigration officers to identify a legitimate document and a forgery.
RFID – Radio Frequency Identification or RFID is the clearest feature of American passports. The back cover of the passport is filled with sensitive electronics that shouldn’t be exposed to extreme temperature or water. Since August 2007, the Department of State started issuing passports with RFID chips. You can enter any country with an immigration checkpoint without machines that can’t read the chips, but passports with the chips would have access to your digital photo, personal information and passport to ensure legitimacy.
The Font – The greatest giveaway of forced passport books is what the bystanders assume to be simplest to imitate – the fonts on the pages. The State Department doesn’t disclose the name of the fonts they use or their specification but the security on the passport is closely tied into the words on passport cover and its pages that this feature can be easily spotted. Font size, character spacing and other abnormalities are included during the printing of the passport.
Hidden Ink – Some passports have ink with security details which could only be seen under UV. But the State Department took it up a notch with optically variable security ink. If someone looks at the word ‘USA’ at the lower right corner of the passport information page, it can be noticed that the color would change from green to gold depending on the lighting. Other pages have some hidden features like micro printing.
Discussed above are the four outstanding features that work all the way to ensure your protection against being identity theft.
The article has been written by chief Editor of the passport office