NBC 5 Responds

Do Not Buy Emergency Appointments to Update Passports; State Dept.

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NBC 5 Responds first told you about major delays at passport offices across the country because of COVID-related closures and staff reductions.

But now there’s a new warning. People are scoring emergency passport appointments online, then fraudulently trying to re-sell them to desperate, would-be travelers.

Nicole Stovall from Southlake planned a family trip to Italy, but plans changed and everyone ended up in New Mexico. That's because Stovall could not get her kids' passports renewed in time.

“Apparently everyone else had the exact same idea that we did. Which was let's go see friends and family internationally now that things are reopened that we haven't seen in quite some time and I guess passport services just got overwhelmed,” said Stovall.

Even reaching out to her elected representatives didn't help.

“I went to John Cornyn's office and it was at that point that someone responded to me extremely quickly and just said, listen, we're just going to level with you. Unless it's a life or death emergency, there's nothing that we can do. You need to cancel your trip,” said Stovall.

Americans across the country have been running into the same problem since international travel resumed.

Some people are flying to other states or driving for hours to nab emergency appointments at passport offices.

The problem has spawned a new issue.

There’s even a Facebook page offering to swap, and often sell appointments to people who've booked their travel, and are desperate to renew their passports.

“I mean, there are people that are going in there and taking three and four appointments and then trading them or selling them or giving them to other people,” said Stovall.

In a statement to NBC 5, The U.S. Department of State wrote,

"We are aware of these issues and are working to prevent them. The Department of State does not charge a fee solely for booking an emergency appointment at one of our agencies or centers. Any request of payment for scheduling a U.S. passport appointment should be considered fraudulent. Further, the department is not affiliated with any third-party appointment booking services, and we have seen numerous instances of falsified appointment bookings through these vendors. We may not be able to honor appointments booked via third parties." 

This week, the State Department went further to address the problems, saying they are, "surging" staff back into offices across the country. 

But people who submit new passport applications right now still won't get their new passports until well into the fall.    

Stovall said both American Airlines and AirBnB were very understanding, and the family got almost all of their money back when their European vacation fell through.

NBC 5 Responds is committed to researching your concerns and recovering your money. Our goal is to get you answers and, if possible, solutions and resolutions. Call us at 844-5RESPND (844-573-7763) or fill out our Customer Complaint form.

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