Con artists pose as DMV to steal your information; learn how to protect yourself

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A car arrives at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) (ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)

The COVID-19 pandemic is generating an endless supply of schemes and now it is the Department of Motor Vehicles that is sending out a warning.

Con artists seem to know the surest way of getting someone’s attention is posing as the DMV: what’s up with your driver’s license, is your registration suspended?

And the latest scheme is tied to the government’s REAL ID program that goes into full effect this year.

Lisa Koumjian of the State Department of Motor Vehicles told us, those texts coming in several forms, and they rarely ask for money.

“The goal of a phishing scam is to get access to your personal information,” said Koumjian

They’re instead “phishing” for your personal information, which is actually more valuable than money.

“Their name, their date of birth, in some cases their Social Security Numbers. Once the scammer has that information that is all they need to steal your identity, to access your accounts and really do a lot of damage,” Koumjian told us.

And lately, con artists have been using the government’s REAL ID as a ploy to get information because the program is large and can likely be confusing. But Koumjian said just remember, to comply with REAL ID, you have to show up at your county auto bureau, or DMV office, in person.

“So if you are being asked to update your records for REAL ID compliance through a text message that is one way you know, right off the bat, it is a fake,” she said.

But Koumjian said there are occasions when the DMV might send you a text message or an email; when your driver’s license is expiring or you need to renew your car registration, they will send you an e-notification.

But keep in mind e-notifications only go in one direction: it would go to you and it does not have a way for you to reply.

Koumjian added, “You might get a text message from us in that way, but we would never send a text asking you to fill out your personal information through a text message.”

Another sign of a bogus DMV text? Bad grammar or obvious misspellings. The DMV has a whole list of tips for safe text messaging, for the list click here.

Al Vaughters is an investigative reporter at WIVB. See more of his work here.

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