How to spot fake passport websites

Do you wait until the last minute to apply for or renew your passport? That’s exactly what scammers are expecting.

Passport scams are common during peak travel seasons, and it’s essential to use the official websites for passport services.

The Federal Trade Commission has some tips to help protect you from being a victim if you’re searching online to get a new or updated passport.

“They may use a flag or a seal that looks really official. However, they’re fake websites,” said Gema de las Heras, consumer education specialist with the FTC, adding that scammers will pretend to be affiliated with the federal government.

“If people are doing searches online, the other thing that they may see pop up are these fake websites that are set up by scammers with similar names to the Department of State or using official-looking seals and pretending to be affiliated with the government,” de las Heras said.

In some cases, scammers are trying to get your personal information.

“They also charge a fee going anywhere from $60 to a few hundred dollars, and this is on top of what people have to pay to get their passport,” de las Heras said.

She said the U.S. Department of State is the only government agency that legitimately handles passport services, and you can set up an appointment for free if you need a passport right away.

“If you pay those (fraudulent) websites, you might end up losing your money because you might not still get a passport. And then you might be giving your information to scammers that then turn it around and sell it to identity thieves,” she added.

You can visit the State Department’s website for passport services. You can report any fake passport websites to the Department of State at

Get breaking news and daily headlines delivered to your email inbox by signing up here.

© 2024 WTOP. All Rights Reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.

Sandra Jones

Sandra Jones is an Anchor/Reporter for WTOP. She’s been in the news industry for more than two decades.

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up