How Scammers Take Advantage of Online DMV Services


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(BBB) ​​- To help slow the spread of COVID-19, the State Departments of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in the United States and the Motor Vehicle Registry in Canada have expanded their online offerings, allowing drivers to make appointments or pre-pay for services.

Unfortunately, scammers are using this opportunity to trick drivers with similar websites that steal money and personal information, according to new consumer reports on BBB.org/ScamTracker.

How the scam works

You need to change the title of your car, get a Real ID, or perform some other service you would normally do at your local motor vehicle office. Instead, you visit what you think is the motor vehicle website to learn more about their new COVID-19 procedures. Your state may now allow you to complete the transaction online, or you may need to schedule an in-person appointment through the motor vehicle website.

But before entering any personal or payment information, double-check the site’s URL to make sure it’s the real deal. Scammers are taking advantage of new online services by creating fake sites that claim to manage renewing your license or transferring your car title. However, these scammers only steal your money and personal information, putting you at risk of identity theft.

For example, one victim thought he had prepaid for his driver’s license renewal online, according to a BBB.org/ScamTracker report. But when they arrived at the DMV office to finalize the transaction, the clerk had no record of the payment. It turns out that the victim paid for a fraudulent website instead.

How to avoid falling victim to a fake website

  • Recheck URL before entering personal and payment information. It can be easy to click on a sponsored ad or an impostor website without noticing. Before entering sensitive information, verify that you are on the correct website and that the link is secure. (Secure links begin with “https://” and include a lock icon on the purchase page. Learn more about BBB.org/BBBSecure.)
  • Beware of third-party websites. Some websites seem to offer a legitimate service but are just fronts for a scam. Beware of websites without a working customer service number and physical address. Typos and grammatical errors can also be indications of a scammer’s work.
  • Shop online with your credit card. Fraudulent charges made to a credit card can usually be disputed, while this may not be the case with other payment methods. Unfortunately, there is no way to recover any personal information you may have shared.

Source: BBB.org

To report a scam, go to BBB Scam Tracker application. To find trusted companies, go to BBB.org.

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