A woman from Halifax is spreading words of warning after filling out her passport renewal form on a website she thought was government run.

Karen Richards says she eagerly went online last week to renew her passport, assuming it would be an easy task.

"I'm a busy professional and I quickly googled 'passport online' and it came up with this website,” said Richards. “It appeared to be legit to me so I proceeded to renew my passport."

Richards put the $186 fee on her credit card. She thought that would cover the 10-year passport. After not hearing from the government that her passport was on its way, she called the support number and was told the paperwork will arrive soon.

"About two weeks after I spoke to them, mail did come out, but it was envelope that was just handwritten with very vague information,” Richards said. “It didn’t say Passport Canada on it, so I said to my spouse it did seem kind of strange."

Peter Moorhouse of Better Business Bureau Atlantic says the Toronto-based company charges a fee for services to help Canadians fill out their passport application form, but cannot issue them.

"They currently show 27 complaints from consumers who had signed up for the service and either were dissatisfied, wanting their money back, or just didn't get what they wanted from the company,” said Moorhouse. “Twenty-seven is a fair number of complaints for a company that size."

Government officials say they're aware of third-parties offering services to assist Canadians filling out their passport applications. But they'd like to encourage anyone looking into this to read the fine print before proceeding.

The Department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship say, "No third-party person, group or website can speed up the processing of their passport or travel document application. Only passport service locations are authorized to collect passport and travel document processing fees."

Meanwhile, Richards says while the company refunded her $60 of the $186 she paid. To her, it's not about the money anymore.

"I just want Canadians to be aware, and hopefully the government can do something about it."

The government says Canadians may contact their passport office free of charge with any questions about their application.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Suzette Belliveau.