If you receive an unsolicited letter in the mail, it might raise suspicions about a potential scam.
That was the case for VERIFY reader Karen when she received a letter purportedly from the U.S. Department of State asking her to take part in a passport study.
“The Office of Passport Services, U.S. Department of State would like to better serve the American public’s need for passport services in the coming months and years. To do this we are conducting interviews with Americans ages 18 and older,” the letter reads in part.
Karen asked in an email, “Is this passport survey from the U.S. Department of State legit?”
Are passport study letters from the U.S. State Department real?
Yes, passport study letters from the U.S. State Department are real.
WHAT WE FOUND
A spokesperson for the U.S. State Department told VERIFY that the study and letter are legitimate. The study has been conducted by the State Department since as early as 2008, according to a report from the Government Accountability Office.
Passport Services sends letters to a random sample of 35,000 addresses every month asking them to complete a survey aimed at determining the demand for U.S. passports, according to the State Department spokesperson. The residential addresses are pulled from the U.S. Postal Service’s list.
According to the Office of Budget and Management, the survey helps the State Department and Passport Services make decisions about “staffing, resource allocation, and budget.”
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The survey is conducted by two companies on behalf of the State Department and participation is voluntary. People who receive a letter can participate in the study via phone or online.
A sample of the letter asking people for their participation in the study, provided by the State Department, matches the one that Karen emailed to VERIFY.
The only difference between the sample letter and the one Karen received is the toll-free number to call for participation in the study via phone. The phone number listed on Karen’s letter is legitimate, the State Department spokesperson said.
According to the letter, the survey is estimated to take less than 10 minutes to complete. Here are the two ways to participate if you receive the letter:
- Visit passportplanning.com to complete the survey online and enter the passcode included in your letter.
- Call this toll-free number to complete the survey via phone: 1-888-741-1703
Those who do not respond to the survey will receive a call from the State Department. People who don’t want to participate in the survey can tell the agency during that phone call.