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Scammers in Northeast Ohio trick travelers who attempt to apply for TSA Precheck

Published: Aug. 31, 2021 at 9:58 AM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - Airline travel is picking up, and you may be tempted to try to skip the line at security.

But, you have to be careful how you try to save time at the airport these days.

That’s the warning from our partners at the Cuyahoga County Scam Squad.

Airline travel is picking up again, and you may be looking for a way to skip the line at security. The risk is that you...

Posted by Hannah Catlett on Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Many travelers say they let their TSA pre-check status lapse last year during the pandemic shutdown.

But, now that they’re back to traveling for work or pleasure, they’re trying to get re-qualified to go through the precheck line.

Michael Moxon said he recently re-applied for the service recently when his work resumed traveling assignments.

“Precheck you get fast service through the security, and you don’t have to pull your laptop out or take your shoes,” he said. “First search in google is TSA precheck. So, I clicked on it.”

He says the fee looked high, but it’d been a while since he went through the process.

“I was like well that was five years ago and I don’t have time to verify, so I just clicked renew,” he said.

After putting in his passport information and his credit card number, he got a concerning email.

“I looked at it again and it said charges from TSA precheck renewal, and then underneath it it said Brazil, and I was like wait a minute,” he said.

That’s when he went to his bank and the Better Business Bureau.

“It was terrifying when I saw it I was like I just gave this whoever all my identification,” he said.

19 Investigates went to the Cleveland area BBB’s Sue McConnell when we saw at least four similar fraud reports that came into the organization’s scam tracker from people here in Northeast Ohio.

One woman wrote that she lost more than 100 dollars to the “website that mimics the real TSA” and “matches the questions and page layout exactly.”

McConnell says there are legitimate companies that can provide services to help with your precheck application-- 19 Investigates found several of them in a quick search.

So, picking one can be tricky.

“The risk is that you may not get what you paid for,” McConnell said.

And, even if you do, you’re giving a lot of personal information to a stranger-- which is always risky.

“If you want to pay a company to do this service just make sure its a legit company they have a good reputation, know what you are paying and know you are giving a lot of personal information to a third party,” McConnell said.

McConnell says similar scams are out there for processes like changing your name or changing your address with the postal service.

So, just make sure when you’re doing those things, you pay attention to the site you’re on too.

If you’ve been the victim of a scam, you should report it to the Cuyahoga County Scam Squad and the BBB.

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