The Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles warned Floridians on Thursday about deceptive websites pretending to be the official DHSMV website, according to an agency press release. The websites attempt to lure individuals into paying unnecessary fees to access services offered by the state.
Some of the official-looking websites require customers to pay a surcharge for their assistance, while others advertise non-government services and provide outdated or inaccurate information.
In addition to posing as the official departmental website, the creators of the misleading websites have paid search engine companies to optimize their links to ensure they appear at the top of search results. When customers visit the websites for driver license or vehicle registration information, they are asked for a name, contact information and credit card information, and are they charged just to get to DHSMV’s websites.
“Don’t be fooled,” DHSMV Executive Director Julie Jones stated in a prepared release. “The websites skirt the law to trap unwitting consumers into paying additional fees. Our website says ‘Official Website of the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles’ at the top of the home page.”
State officials have shown their disgust and disappointment that any entity would attempt such a deceptive scheme. However, the deceptive websites do post a small disclaimer that they are not affiliated with the DHSMV or any governmental agency, so what they are doing is technically legal.
Floridians can skip the trip to an office and renew driver licenses, identification cards and vehicle tags, as well as conduct other driving-related business online at www.GoRenew.com. Customers who previously renewed their driver license online will be required to visit an office for the next renewal to prove identity under the Drivers Privacy Protection Act.
The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles provides highway safety and security through excellence in service, education and enforcement. The department is leading the way to a safer Florida through the efficient and professional execution of its core mission: the issuance of driver licenses, vehicle tags and titles and operation of the Florida Highway Patrol.