Beware of this costly TSA PreCheck application scam

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is an agency within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security that is responsible for securing the nation’s transportation systems. Their mission is to protect these systems to ensure freedom of movement for people and commerce. In addition to their primary mission, the TSA has also taken on the responsibility of protecting individuals from scams related to the TSA PreCheck program.

TSA PreCheck is a program that allows pre-approved travelers to go through an expedited security screening process at airports. It is designed to make the travel experience faster and more convenient for eligible travelers. However, scammers have taken advantage of the popularity of this program by creating websites that claim to assist with the application process. These websites charge applicants additional fees on top of the official application fee, which can range from $78 to $85.

Not only do these scam websites charge unnecessary fees, but there is also no guarantee that they will handle your data securely or pass your application through to the official channels. The assistance they promise is already built into the official application process, so there is no need to use these unauthorized sites.

To ensure that you are applying through official channels, it is important to look for certain indicators. One of the easiest ways to determine if a website is authorized is to check if the website ends in “.gov”. Additionally, if you are asked to enter payment information online when applying for the first time, it is a clear sign that the website is not authorized. The TSA has contracts with two private companies, Telos and Idemia, that conduct TSA PreCheck enrollments, and you can reach both through the TSA’s official website.

When you apply for TSA PreCheck through official channels, you will pay the application fee when you visit an in-person enrollment center to complete the registration process. At the enrollment center, the authorized provider will match the information on your identification documentation to your application information to ensure accuracy. If there are any mistakes or errors, the authorized provider can assist you in correcting your application.

There are over 600 enrollment centers for TSA PreCheck, and the majority have availability within two weeks. The online portion of the application process guides you through finding an enrollment center near you, scheduling an appointment, and ensuring you bring the correct documents with you. It is even possible to walk in to most enrollment centers without an appointment, though scheduling one is preferred.

If you apply through an unauthorized site, there is no guarantee that your personal information will be handled securely. Authorized providers must meet the TSA’s requirements for using secure application data. On the other hand, unauthorized sites may not store your information properly, putting your personal data at risk.

It is important to educate yourself about these scam sites to protect yourself from falling victim to them. The TSA takes legal action against these sites when possible and works with search engines like Google to remove them from search results. However, the best defense against these scams is to apply for TSA PreCheck through an authorized provider. By starting the enrollment process on the official TSA website and using the links provided, you can ensure that you are applying through the correct channels and avoid unnecessary fees and potential identity theft.

If you do fall victim to one of these unauthorized sites, it is recommended that you contact your financial institution to report the fraudulent charge. It is also advisable to file a report with your local police department and the Federal Trade Commission to make authorities aware of these scams.

In conclusion, while the TSA’s mission is to protect the nation’s transportation systems, they have also taken on the responsibility of protecting individuals from scams related to the TSA PreCheck program. Authorized enrollment providers are available to assist with the application process, and it is important to apply through official channels to ensure the security of your personal information. By educating yourself about these scams and taking the necessary precautions, you can have a safe and hassle-free experience with TSA PreCheck.

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