Scams related to the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) PreCheck program have substantially increased in the last couple of years.  For those people unfamiliar with the PreCheck program, the TSA has a long standing program called TSA PreCheck which enables you to go through an expedited screening at the airport in special lines without having to remove your shoes, belts or jackets.

In order to obtain PreCheck status you need to both apply online and then schedule an appointment at one of 380 enrollment centers.  The in-person appointment which includes fingerprinting and a background check is generally completed in ten minutes.

Unfortunately, scammers, of course, have been taking advantage of people trying to sign up for the TSA PreCheck program and are setting up phony websites that appear to be official websites of the TSA.  They then lure you into providing personal information they use to make you a victim of identity theft as well as steal the money they charge you online for a phony TSA PreCheck enrollment.  Recently we have seen the scammers charging $140 for their worthless services.  The actual enrollment price is $85 for five years and $70 to renew.

TIPS

Part of the problem is that some sophisticated scammers are adept at manipulating the algorithms used by Google Chrome and other search engines so that the phony websites appear high on a search.  Merely because a website appears high on a search does not mean that it is legitimate.  The only legitimate sites where you can apply for the TSA PreCheck program are https://www.tsa.gov/precheck and https://universalenroll.dhs.gov/

Also, it is important to note that when you first apply for the TSA PreCheck program, you cannot pay online.  You can register for the program, but you pay when you have your in-person appointment.  Therefore any site that asks you to pay online for your initial TSA PreCheck status is a scam.  TSA PreCheck status is good for five years, but it can be renewed.  When you renew, you can do the entire process including payment online.

The renewal process also has been exploited by scammers sending you emails posing as the TSA encouraging you to click on links to renew your status.  This is problematic since when you actually need to renew your status, you will get an email from the real TSA  and it can be difficult to distinguish the phony TSA email from that of the real TSA so your best bet is to check directly with the TSA to see about renewing your status.  You can use this link to find about your present status, whether you need to renew and how to do so properly.  https://universalenroll.dhs.gov/programs/precheck

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