Put the Brakes on DMV Scams

The following is from the AARP Fraud Watch Network

With 228 million licensed drivers in the United States, nearly all of us will interact with our state’s Department of Motor Vehicles, or DMV (although your state may call it something different). Unfortunately, government impostor scammers know this and are shifting DMV scams into high gear for their own financial benefit.

How It Works

A text message from your state’s DMV requests payment for an overdue fee and threatens license suspension if you do not pay immediately.

Alternatively, the message may say you are due for a refund from an overpayment or — this is especially timely — it may say you are entitled to a fuel rebate to offset high gas prices.

A web search for your state DMV lands you on what you think is your state’s official DMV site.

What You Should Know

In some states, DMVs do send text messages, but only to consumers who have signed up to receive them.

At any rate, government agencies, including the DMV, will not ask for personal or private data by text message.

Criminals buy online ads to lead web searchers to fake DMV pages with the goal of capturing a payment method or sensitive data that can be used for identity fraud.

What You Should Do

Carefully scrutinize DMV text messages for misspellings or unusual grammar.

Avoid clicking any links in an unsolicited text message or email, even if it claims to be a government agency.

Know your state motor vehicle office’s correct name. Crooks often use the generic “DMV” in scam messages, even in states with different agency names, such as Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles or Illinois’ Department of Driver Services.

Confirm that a DMV website is genuine by looking for a .gov suffix in the address, which every state motor vehicle agency uses (except for Wyoming).

Report DMV scams to the Federal Trade Commission, online or by calling 877-382-4357, and to your state’s consumer protection office.

Do you think you have been targeted or have fallen victim to a scam? Contact the AARP Fraud Watch Network Helpline at 877-908-3360