Scammers hitting millions of people waiting for passports
ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - Passport-related scams are rising with the State Department having significant processing backlogs.
Reporting wait time for both new and renewal routine passport applications can be up to 18 weeks. Even “expedited passport” wait times take up to 3 months and include a $60 fee. The estimated backlog of passport applications is between a million and a half to 2 million applications.
Dennis Horton, director of the Rockford Regional Office of the Better Business Bureau says, “Scammers, posing as Passport expeditors are stepping in and convincing their victims for a higher fee they can get quickly get through the processing time, including the initial internal intake of the applications, and mailing. Along with money losses in these scams, passports contain critical personal information that unlocks identity theft for years to come.”
Scammers also love to play on people in emotional and stressful situations. With American travelers who do not currently have valid U.S. passports, applicants might be under pressure to possibly cancel their trips and not be able to travel overseas this summer due to the extensive wait times. That creates a perfect situation for scammers to jump in with fast, but fraudulent solutions.
BBB Tips to protect against Passport Scams:
• Watch for spoofers pretending to be a government agency. It’s extremely easy for making phone calls, e-mails, texts, and even phony websites to look like they’re coming from a real agency.
• Never trust an unsolicited phone call or email pretending to be the State Department or Passport Agency asking for personal information or payment of fees.
• Always check out any company with BBB.ORG before you do business with them.
• Any form of unusual forms of payments like gift cards, wire transfers, even bitcoin are “Tip-offs to the Rip-off.”
• If you have lost money or encountered a scam, please report it to the BBB Scamtracker and help protect other consumers and your community.
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