Can you rely on Post Office certified documents?

The Post Office provides a service whereby it will certify that copies of a passport etc are true copies of the original.  The customer can then send off the certified copy to a firm which is doing AML checks, so as to verify their identity.  But we have discovered that Post Office counter staff are happy to issue certified copies even though the person presenting the documents for checking is not the person named in them.

This creates an obvious risk.  All a crook needs to do is to get hold of a passport, driving licence etc for a few minutes, take it to a Post Office, and obtain as many certified copies as they like.  They can then return the original before it is missed, and start opening accounts and doing business in the name of the person whose passport they used.

Businesses might naturally assume that Post Office certified documents would only be issued to the person identified. It is important to realise that this is not so.

We have invited the Post Office to print a warning on certified copies such as “The Post Office does not warrant that the person who presented this document to us is the person named in it.”  They have declined to do so.

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