(PatriotWise.com)- It looks like the United States has a serious cybersecurity problem. After multiple hacking and ransomware scandals affecting government agencies and private businesses in recent years, now the United StateS State Department has been forced to temporarily shut down the only appointment system for passport applicants.
The State Department was reportedly hit by scammers who scheduled appointments and then sold those appointments to desperate travelers for thousands of dollars. It comes at a time when booking appointments at U.S. embassies is more difficult than ever, and whenever free appointments are available they are quickly taken by travelers looking to update their passport.
Owing to COVID-19 and lockdown measures, attending U.S. consulates is more complex than ever, and scammers very easily hacked into the online booking system and took advantage of it.
The State Department website posted a message on its main page earlier in the week that described how the last-minute appointment booking system had been temporarily removed to “ensure our very limited, last-minute in-person passport appointments at one of our agencies or centers go to applicants who need them for urgent travel.”
The State Department admitted that they were forced to make the change after third parties were booking available appointments with bots and selling those appointments on to people who desperately needed the appointment to travel.
Currently, the only way to make an appointment is to call up the National Passport Information Center and make a request that way…but you’ll need to do it on a weekday.
Wait times for customer representatives are also quite long, with last-minute appointments extremely limited.
If you need to renew your passport for future travel, it’s probably worth doing that sooner rather than later. And if you’re in urgent need of an appointment to travel…you might want to consider making alternative plans.
And if hackers can so easily get into a government website, it’s probably about time that the Biden administration steps in to do something.