Global Entry can’t get a fingerprint because there isn’t one

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By Christopher Elliott

Georgeann Lenard’s Global Entry application is stuck because of an unusual problem, being the result of an unusual accident. Can this application be rescued?

Question

I need your help with my application for Global Entry, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection program that allows expedited clearance for travelers entering the United States. I can’t contact anybody at the Global Entry number or email about the status of my application and interview.

“I believe the problem is that it is difficult to get fingerprints from my right hand as a result, an industrial accident occurred over four decades ago. Pioneering hand surgeons saved my hand and forearm.

Months ago, they accepted my application. I went for my interview and fingerprinting at Philadelphia International Airport in January. Unfortunately, I have not heard anything from Global Entry — not even a rejection of my application. I have tried to call them, but I get recordings and can’t get a person on the phone. And I have emailed with no result.

This fingerprinting problem can’t only affect me. At the time of the fingerprinting, they also gave me a TSA PreCheck number, but I’m not sure whether I can use it legally. I have no criminal record. Can you help me?– Georgeann Lenard, Philadelphia

Answer

You’ve raised a question that I asked when the first kiosks first appeared years ago: What happens when a traveler doesn’t have a finger to scan? I should note that the question was laughed off by my colleagues in the newsroom and deleted by my editor. Too abstract, they said. They were wrong.

The answer, unfortunately, is that U.S. Customs and Border Protection has no idea what to do with someone who had an industrial accident. (Related: Revenge of the travel industry: Online reviews of you.)

You were correct to put your grievance in writing. That’s the best way to document a problem and ask for a resolution. Calling Customs may or may not fix the problem. That’s the way it works with most consumer grievances. You have to create a paper trail. (Here’s how to fix your own consumer problem.)

Global Rescue is the world’s leading provider of medical, security, evacuation and travel risk management services. Founded in 2004, Global Rescue has exclusive relationships with the Johns Hopkins Emergency Medicine Division of Special Operations and Elite Medical Group. Global Rescue provides best-in-class services that identify, monitor and respond to client medical and security crises. Learn more about Global Rescue.

The good news about your Global Entry application

I highly recommend Global Entry if you travel infrequently. It cuts the amount of time you have to wait at the border. It also gives you TSA PreCheck status, so you don’t get harassed at airport security. That’s well worth the $100 application fee.

Finding a real person at Customs can be a challenge, even for me. I can’t take any credit for the following resolution: A friend of a friend who works for the government looked into your application. And I’m happy to report that it’s been approved.

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can't. He's the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes three nationally syndicated columns. He also publishes the Elliott Report, a news site for consumers, and Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can't solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on X, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter.

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