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Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Passport to Temptation: A Nudge in the Wrong Direction from Her Majesty’s Passport Office?

One of us Behaviour Workshoppers just renewed our UK passport. The process was smooth and efficient (if expensive). So far, so impressive. The new passport arrived promptly, and included in the envelope was a leaflet entitled "Your new passport: important information." The leaflet includes the following comment "UK passports are valuable documents and criminals attempt to use them to commit crimes which may affect you personally, such as identity theft." Fair enough. We all know that it’s important to safeguard your passport, which is highly sought after by those with nefarious intentions.

So why is it that the passport arrives via the post, in an envelope emblazoned with "Her Majesty's Passport Office" and "This Is Not A Circular - Important Documents enclosed." In case there is any doubt as to what the envelope contains, it’s easy to do the Christmas present test, feel the contents and confirm, yes, it’s a passport.

If you live in a single dwelling with a private letter box this may not be a security risk (assuming it gets through the postal system), but for people whose post goes to a communal area, it could be a real problem. Given that credit cards and other valuable documents are now sent out in more anonymous packages, why not passports? It’s time to stop this Nudge in the wrong direction. After all, unlike you and me, not everyone out there is an honest and upstanding citizen….and Nudging is all about helping people to do the right thing. Not the wrong thing. 

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