Passport Office strike: Holidaymakers warned over passport scams as fraudsters exploit Passport Office delays
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Passport Office strikes have led to a fresh warning to travellers over scams and traps to avoid. According to the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI), scammers are using increasingly sophisticated and convincing methods to dupe potential travellers and offering fake fast-track passport services amid delays caused by striking government workers.
Common scams include fake social media ads with pictures of holiday cottages and hotels, accompanied by "too good to be true" prices. Often victims did not realise they had been scammed until they arrived at the airport to find their flight reservation did not exist, or at a hotel to discover there was no record of their booking, by which time scammers have disappeared with the money.
CTSI lead officer Katherine Hart said: "These bogus adverts are designed to steal our money, leaving us disappointed and without a holiday. As with any purchase, do your research, only shop with reputable companies, and make sure you are 100% sure who you are dealing with and what you are getting before you part with any money.”
Passport office strike: How scammers are taking advantage of passport delays
Passport Office workers began a five-week walkout in a dispute over pay and pensions. Due to this, scammers are taking advantage of the delays and offering holidaymakers fast track passports which are not real. The CTSI has also warned about texts and emails offering speedy passport renewals - these can cause victims to lose personal data, as well as money.
Currently, an adult passport renewal can take up to ten weeks, meaning even if an application were submitted today, it may not arrive back until late June. With summer holidays on the horizon and a potential backlog of expired passports from during the pandemic, holidaymakers are being urged to check their expiry date and leave plenty of time to renew ahead of any travel.
When done online, an adult passport renewal costs £82.50, or £93 if using a paper form. For children under 16, applications cost £53.50 online and £64 by post.
Those in need of an urgent passport who can’t wait 10 weeks can apply for a one-week fast track application which will deliver a passport within a week of an in-person appointment at a passport office. This costs £155 for an adult passport and £126 for a child passport.
However, due to strike action, available appointments to apply for a fast track application are limited.
How to avoid passport scams
To avoid passport scams, it is recommended you check the URL and security of any website and independent reviews of the website itself. When renewing a passport, only use the government’s official website.
Using a protected payment method, such as a credit card, will also provide some protection against scams.