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Glitch causes man to receive someone else's new passport

"I thought, 'what on earth is going on?'" he told Yle.

En hand som håller i ett pass.
Finnish police issue ID cards and passports but the documents are distributed to pick-up points near customers' homes. Image: Mikaela Löv / Yle
Yle News

Risto Laamanen got a bit of a shock when he went to pick up his new passport and ID card at the local Matkahuolto delivery service point on Monday.

Laamanen's newly-minted ID card looked as it should, but he didn't recognise the person shown in his passport — he was a couple of years younger and lived somewhere else.

"I went home and opened each envelope. Both had my name and address. The ID card was correct, but in the passport a completely strange man was looking at me," Laamanen told Yle. "I thought, 'what on earth is going on?'"

Laamanen, who lives just east of Tampere in the city of Kangasala, said he reached out to many resources about what to do, also calling the police's national number.

"I was told to take the incorrect passport to where I picked it up and that I would get a new passport in a week. I got the feeling it wasn't the first time [this has happened]," he explained.

Then, increasingly concerned about the idea of someone else having his actual passport, he hoped that whoever has it won't use it for nefarious purposes.

"The bank said [that] passport can't be used. I guess my twin won't be found right away. I'm still worried," he said.

However, because passports are distributed by a third party, Laamanen said he doesn't blame the police or the delivery service.

Problem acknowledged

Senior Officer at the National Police Board, Hanna Piipponen, told Yle that there was a problem with the distribution of passports on Monday.

She said the extent of the issue was not yet known, but acknowledged there were problems with the system that sends messages to customers that their documents were ready to be picked up.

She noted that authorities were aware of a few cases in which documents were sent to the wrong people.

Piiponen said the passports in question were not missing and that they have been tracked down.

"That's why we closely monitor [the distribution], so that we can trace everyone's shipments and this type of error is monitored until the end," Piipponen explained.

Customers who have received the wrong passports have been advised to return them to where they were picked up.

The Police Board is in charge of distributing passports in Finland, but does not ship the documents to customers.

"We usually don't disclose where such errors occur. We strive to keep details secret in order to maintain the security of the process. I won't comment about the reasons why," Piipponen said.

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