As many a driver can attest, taking a trip to the DMV is rarely a picnic. Between long lines and nerve-racking licensing tests, you’ll likely do anything to get out of there as fast as possible. And if the DMV follows up with you later on, you’ll probably do what they ask to ensure that your license remains in good standing. However, you may want to think twice before responding to that message from your local motor vehicle department. Read on to discover how a new DMV scam is being perpetrated and what to do if you think you’ve been targeted.
On Dec. 1, MassLive reported that scammers are posing as officials from the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) in a new text message con.
The grift begins when you receive a text from what appears to be the RMV. In some cases, the text will claim that you are required to update your driver’s license information for the state’s RMV database or you risk having your license suspended. However, the link that supposedly leads to the database into which you can input your information actually takes you to a phishing website where your data may be stolen by scammers.
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While the fear of having your license suspended might be enough to get you to cough up information at the slightest prompting, the RMV says that there are certain clear indications that the text you’ve received is a scam.
If the website you’re taken to has the word “for-profit” or “privately-owned” on it, or if the link leads to a site other than your local DMV or RMV website, you can be certain that it’s fake. In the case of the Massachusetts RMV, any legitimate communications from the agency will also bear the Massachusetts state seal. If you live in Massachusetts, any communications would be marked “RMV,” not “DMV,” as well.
The Westfield, Massachusetts Police Department (WMPD), which also warned of the scam on its official Facebook page, noted that following the link included in the text message may put your personal information in the wrong hands.
“The link provided will open up to a Google doc, in an attempt to get the victim to enter their personal information and submit it to the suspect(s) for nefarious purposes,” the WMPD explains. The police department recommends that anyone who receives this text delete it and block the sender immediately. The Massachusetts RMV announced via its website that it “does not send text messages to customers to request personal information.” While there may be some exceptions to the rule, most state DMVs and RMVs will not attempt to solicit information this way, either.
Massachusetts isn’t alone in having scammers impersonate officials from the DMV or RMV. In Oct. 2021, the New York State DMV announced that a similar text message phishing scam was being perpetrated by individuals posing as DMV officials.
The California, Connecticut, Iowa, Illinois, and Washington DMVs and Departments of Licensing are among the other states to announce similar text message scams. If you have any doubt about the legitimacy of a message you’ve received, contact your state’s DMV via the email or phone number on its official website and report the fraud.