BBB Scam Alert: As DMVs move services online, scammers cash in with lookalike sites
Milwaukee, Wis. – To help slow the spread of COVID-19, state departments of motor vehicles (DMVs) around the United States, and the Registry of Motor Vehicles in Canada, have expanded their online offerings, allowing drivers to book appointments or pre-pay for services. Unfortunately, scammers are using this opportunity to trick drivers with lookalike websites that steal money and personal information, according to new reports filed by consumers on BBB.org/ScamTracker.
How the Scam Works
You need to change your car’s title, get a Real ID, or perform another service that you would normally do at your local motor vehicle office. Instead, you visit what you think is the motor vehicle’s website to learn about its 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.
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. It can be easy to click on a sponsored ad or imposter website without noticing. Before you enter any sensitive information, double-check that you are on the right 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 only fronts for a scam. Be suspicious of websites with no working customer service number and no physical address. Typos and grammatical errors can be indications of a scammer’s handiwork, too.
- 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 InformationLearn more about a similar scam involving change of address services. If you have been the victim of this or another scam, make others aware by filing a report on BBB.org/ScamTracker.
For more information or further inquiries, contact the Wisconsin BBB at www.bbb.org/wisconsin, 414-847-6000 or 1-800-273-1002. Consumers also can find more information about how to protect themselves from scams by following the Wisconsin BBB on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
ABOUT BBB: For more than 100 years, the Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2019, people turned to BBB more than 183 million times for BBB Business Profiles on more than 5.8 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at bbb.org. There are local, independent BBBs across the United States, Canada and Mexico, including BBB Serving Wisconsin which was founded in 1939 and serves the state of Wisconsin.