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BBB: Beware of websites mimicking official government pages

Consumer Investigations

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ As states’ motor vehicle divisions move most of their services online due to the pandemic, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) is warning everyone to make sure they’re using the correct website.

The BBB reports that two Massachusetts residents fell victim to “fake” government websites while attempting to renew their car registrations.

“They often look the same. It’s basically a mirror of the legitimate website,” BBB’s Paula Fleming said. “[It] claims to handle license renewals, permit renewals, car title transfers.”

Fleming said before entering your financial or personal information, double check the website’s URL.

In Massachusetts, the state calls its motor vehicle division the Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) instead of the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV), as its called in Rhode Island.

A recent blog post from the Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulations said state residents should steer clear of websites that use the DMV abbreviation.

“These are cons that steal your money and bode your personal information,” Fleming said.

The blog post said a customer will never be charged to access the RMV’s forms and information, or to check a license, registration or title status.

The BBB hasn’t received any reports of the scheme in Rhode Island, but Fleming said that doesn’t mean it’s not happening here.

She suggested going directly to the state’s website instead of clicking on links sent via email or social media.

“The scams look very similar, and people are clicking on different social media links, they’re clicking on different adds, and those are third-party scam artists,” Fleming said.

If you believe you’ve fallen victim to a mimic website, you can report it through the BBB scam tracker.

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