From the Better Business Bureau of Central Virginia:
Because of COVID-19 challenges, state departments of motor vehicles (DMVs) around the United States generally have expanded their online offerings by encouraging drivers to book appointments or prepay for services. Unfortunately, scammers are stepping up opportunities to trick drivers with lookalike websites that steal personal and even credit card information, according to new reports filed by consumers on BBB.org/ScamTracker.
How the Scam Works
You visit what you think is the DMV website to read about the 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 DMV website.
Be warned that before you enter any personal or payment information, double check the site’s URL to make sure it’s the real deal. Scammers are taking advantage of the new online services by creating phony sites that claim to handle your license renewal, car title transfer, or other types of DMV services offered.
For example, one victim thought they had pre-paid for a driver’s license renewal online, according to a BBB.org/ScamTracker report. But when they arrived at the DMV office to complete the transaction, the clerk had no record of the payment. Turns out the victim paid a scam lookalike website instead.
How to Avoid Falling Victim to a Fake Website
- Double check the URL before you enter personal and payment information. Before you enter any sensitive information, double check you’re on the correct website and that the link is secure. (Secure links start with “https://” and include a lock icon on the purchase page. Learn more at BBB.org/BBBSecure.)
- Be wary of third-party websites. Some websites appear to offer a legitimate service, but are really part of a scam. Be suspicious of websites with no working customer service number and no physical address. Typos and grammatical errors can also be indications of a scammer’s handiwork.
- Make online purchases with your credit card. Fraudulent charges made on a credit card can usually be disputed, whereas that might not be the case with other payment methods. Unfortunately, there is no way to get back the personal information you may have shared.
For More Information
About BBB: BBB serving Central Virginia serves Richmond, the Tri-Cities, Charlottesville, and Fredericksburg, as well as 42 surrounding counties from Fauquier to Mecklenburg and Northumberland to Amherst. The nonprofit organization was established in 1954 to advance responsible, honest, and ethical business practices and to promote customer confidence through self-regulation of business. Core services of BBB include business profiles, dispute resolution, truth-in advertising, scam warnings, consumer and business education, and charity review.