From The Straits Times    |

Credit: ST

When these items are lost, personal data is exposed or money can be taken from digital wallets.

The number of Singapore passports reported lost overseas is on the rise as travel gradually resumed since the peak of the pandemic.

The Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) recorded 961 reports of lost passports in 2022, a near four-fold increase from the 248 cases in 2021.

Most of these cases occurred during the peak travel season like school holidays, commonly due to reasons such as theft, robbery or carelessness, said an ICA spokesman in reply to queries from The Straits Times.

Here is a quick look at what you should do if you lose your passport or mobile phone overseas:

What should I do if I lose my Singapore passport?

A lost passport must be reported immediately at the nearest local police station, said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on its website.

Those who lose a Singapore passport should also contact the nearest Singapore Overseas Mission – an administrative office that can assist Singaporeans located in most popular tourist destinations, said an ICA spokesman.

Prepare two passport-sized photographs that will be used in a temporary travel document once your identity has been verified.

You will also need to make a report on the “Loss of Passport” page on the ICA website by logging in using Singpass. This will ensure the lost passport can no longer be used.

The procedure on how to report a passport loss can be accessed via this link: https://www.ica.gov.sg/documents/passport/loss

What can I do to prepare for a lost phone?

Familiarising yourself with tools to help you track a lost device could go a long way to help recover it, or reset your phone.

Set up biometric authentication like facial recognition and a strong passcode to lock your device, said Mr Jan Sysmans, mobile app security expert for cyber-security firm Appdome.

Doing so will keep most crooks out of your device, he said, adding that it is a myth that locked phones can be cracked in seconds like how they are depicted in the movies.

“That’s just Hollywood,” said Mr Sysmans. “Once the device is locked, it’s very hard to unlock it.”

Android and Apple users can also install apps that help locate their devices. These apps include Google’s Find My Device and Apple’s Find My app.

Pair the app with users on the same trip so that they can help to locate the device should it go missing.

Both of these apps pinpoint the location of a lost device on a map, and can remotely erase data on the device on command through a separate device.

These tools also serve as a convenient way to keep track of your loved ones while travelling.

Users should also keep a record of the phone’s identification number to include in a police report. The number is found in the settings menu of most devices.

Ensure that your important files are duplicated on a computer, or backed up in cloud storage services on Apple and Google accounts.

Photos and most digital files back up automatically, but users can update their messaging apps like WhatsApp to save their conversations more regularly in case the device is lost on the go.

What are the first things I should do if I lose my phone

If you have your tracking apps installed and linked with your friends’ devices, you can check the location of your missing phone in real time.

If it appears to have been stolen, consider wiping out the phone’s memory via these apps, which will ensure the crook does not have access to your apps or personal data.

Report your missing device to the local police and contact your wireless carrier.

How can I ensure my e-wallets are safe?

Mobile wallets like Apple Wallet and Google Pay provide users the option to make contactless payments without requiring biometric authentication for convenience.

But this can grant crooks access to the cards tied to a lost device, allowing them to make transactions until you deactivate the phone or close the bank accounts linked, said Mr Sysmans.

With biometric authentication in place, digital cards stashed in your phone might not be easily accessible, but as with a lost credit card, it is wise to call your bank to cancel the card or freeze your account, said Mr Sysmans.

Which one for mobile wallet: credit or debit card?

Linking a credit card as your preferred mode of payment on your mobile wallet is a safer option than a debit card. Credit cards typically offer fraud protections, meaning that unsolicited transactions come with fewer risks and can be disputed.

Alternatively, you can use a multi-currency travel wallet like YouTrip or Revolut, as spending is limited to the amount of money you transfer to the virtual account, said Mr Sysmans.

Multi-currency digital wallets offer a convenient way to convert to foreign currencies to make digital payments with little to no overseas transaction fees.

This article was originally published in The Straits Times.