Better Business Bureau issues warning on look-alike DMV websites

Updated: Oct. 14, 2020 at 8:18 AM EDT
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MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - In states across the country, the Department of Motor Vehicles is expanding online options to better serve the public during the COVID-19 pandemic.

But the Better Business Bureau is sending out a warning to be wary of some online links.

If you’re looking to book an appointment with the DMV online, the BBB is warning the public that scammers are using fake versions of the DMV’s website to take your money and information.

The BBB says these fraudulent websites may claim to handle license renewals or car title transfers.

Renee Wikstrom, director of communications for the BBB of Coastal Carolina, said the scam began in the early stages of the pandemic last December.

“They were kind of doing an experiment at the end of the year knowing that if it took on, they would continue and push it out to be a larger scam," she said. "Coronavirus was just the perfect time for them to do that.”

Wikstrom referred to COVID-19 as a “gift” to scammers, but the DMV scam isn’t the only one the BBB is warning the public about.

A big one this week is for Amazon deals.

Wikstrom said people should be on the lookout for any call saying there’s a problem with their Amazon order, account or asking for their private Amazon information.

But the COVID-19 effect on scams isn’t stopping here. Wikstrom said the BBB is preparing for more scams to surface.

“We are going to see a lot more scams popping up online where you can ‘order your vaccine for the coronavirus,’ that sort of thing is coming through the pipeline,"' she said. "There are just so many scams out there right now with coronavirus, people just really, really, really need to be careful with what they are doing.”

Here is the BBB’s advice for avoiding fake websites:

  • 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).
  • 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.

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