Beware of online scams when renewing your drivers license or tag

DENNIS HOLLINGSWORTH

DENNIS HOLLINGSWORTH

Have you renewed your driver license online for just $14 and not received it yet? Perhaps you ordered an 8-character personalized plate and you’re still waiting for it to arrive. Maybe your vehicle registration has expired while you wait weeks and weeks for your renewed yellow sticker to be mailed to you.

If any of these sound familiar, St. Johns County Tax Collector Dennis W. Hollingsworth tells Historic City News that you’ve been scammed.

“Customer service representatives in the phone center receive calls from unwitting residents every day who thought they were paying for legitimate services online,” Hollingsworth told local reporters. “Once we confirm their records have not been updated, it sinks in that not only did they lose their cash; more importantly, their personal information was willingly provided to a bogus site.”

Driver license number, social security number, date of birth, home address – all these details are part of your confidential driver license record and, unfortunately, also are questions to be completed on these sites preying on harried and hurried customers.

The only official websites related to your Florida tag, title or driver license are: www.GoRenew.com and www.flhsmv.gov. You can link directly to these sites by visiting www.sjctax.us and selecting NEED TO MAKE A PAYMENT from our homepage, thereby avoiding the chance for error. All other sites may contain official-looking information – and may even link to bona fide sites. However, if you take the time to read the site closely, from top to bottom, you will read phrases like “This website is privately owned and is not owned or operated or licensed by, nor affiliated with any federal, state, county, or city government and is not owned, operated or affiliated with any state Department of Motor vehicles;” or “This website is an independent organization not affiliated with the state of Florida , the Florida DMV, the Department of Motor Vehicles, or DHSMV.”

It is also essential that you click on and read the website’s Terms, Conditions and User Policy sections. Some of these sites indicate a one-time user fee will be charged, or that a monthly rate will be charged until you discontinue accessing your records through the business’s website. Others clearly state that you are giving the business permission to use your personal information because you have freely provided the details to them.

Although these sites are predatory, they are not illegal because they are not represented as the official website for the State of Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles Department. By having these disclaimers and intentions stated on the website in multiple locations, the responsibility shifts from the provider to the user.

With respect to Business Tax Receipts or Property Tax, please note that your St. Johns County Tax Collector will never send you a communication requesting your bank account information to process taxes. If you receive such a communication, by phone or email, please contact our office immediately.

Conducting your business online is a sound, efficient and effective way to complete transactions. It is your responsibility, though, to remain vigilant and aware of what sites you are utilizing before entering your private information. If you have any questions about a site you are about to use for driver license or tag services, feel free to call your St. Johns County Tax Collector at 904-209-2250 or email me at taxcollector@sjctax.us.

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