Next time you apply to renew your license plate tags, be careful how you do it. Lookalike BMV and DMV websites may be waiting to prey on your desire for convenience — just like they did to Brian Morgan, a local man who recently fell for a knockoff website.
Brian Morgan recently received a letter explaining it was time to renew the plates on his pickup truck.
"I got the notice in the mail," he said, "and every year I then get online and do my registration renewal and order my sticker."
He Googled the state motor vehicle website and clicked the top Google listing.
"It's always the first one," he said, "and I get it and go."
Morgan entered his personal info, address and credit card number, but instead of getting a tag renewal, he got a very strange response.
"I ended up becoming a club member for $3.99 at this place," he said.
Drivers fooled into thinking they are on state's site
Wait, what? As he inspected the site closer, he learned he had never been on the DMV's website but instead was on one of several sites that look similar to the motor vehicles department of various states.
From a legal perspective, companies doing this are doing nothing wrong. They do provide a service by helping drivers renew their plates through their state.
However, their informational service comes with a fee that you wouldn't have to pay if you went straight to the real website.
Four of these sites — that appear almost identical — are:
The About Us page of all three sites is nearly the same and is very vague about who they are.
BBB issues caution
The Better Business Bureau has a report only on Driversservices.org and gives it an "F" rating with more than 100 complaints filed in the past year.
Many of the complaints are from drivers like Morgan who thought they were on their state's official site.
"I do want to warn people," Morgan said. "If there is something different, like the website doesn't look like the original, and you figure they just changed it, go back and check again."
These sites all have disclaimers on their front page stating they are not government websites. However, Morgan — and evidently many others, judging by BBB complaints — missed those disclaimers.
We emailed the two sites that Morgan said he ended up on but have not heard back. In the meantime, he said he will triple check next year to make sure he is really on the state site.
That way he doesn't waste his money.
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