RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – If you own a vehicle, you’ve dealt with the Department of Motor Vehicles, but you should be aware that there are some websites that charge you for those services -services that should be free.
Many DMV activities can be done at a local office.
But, maybe you don’t want to wait in line or maybe you are too busy to make a trip to the local office, so you opt to do it online.
The website you visit may not be the website you wanted.
If you type “DMVNC” into a search engine, you can get a lot of listings and only one of them is the official state DMV site.
Many of the sites look official and you may not realize it is a third-party site that is not run by the state.
“This has been an issue for a quite a long time,” says NCDMV spokesman John Brockwell.
The DMV says increasing numbers of its customers are complaining about having to pay for information that’s actually free and it’s all quite legal for those websites to charge you.
“As long as there is a disclaimer, they’re not an illegal website,” says Brockwell.
The disclaimers say things like they are “not affiliated with any state agency.”
Some of those disclaimers are prominent on a site, some are a little more difficult to see at first glance.
Those third party sites tout their services by saying things like they are “providing you with the best, simplified, most accurate DMV information plus auto-related products and services.”
But, when you use those sites you pay a price.
For example, let’s say if you want to download North Carolina driver’s handbook.
“These websites will charge you as much as $14.99 when you can get them absolutely free,” says Brockwell.
Many of those third-party DMV websites could also use your personal information in ways you might not realize.
“They get your name, your address and of course credit card information, so you’ll be on a list for a marketing campaign where you can spend more money,” says Brockwell.
If you’re not using the official state website, officials warn there can be a dark side to the third-party sites.
- Information could be out of date or erroneous
- Third-party websites are susceptible to credit card information theft
- Your information could be used for future marketing or fraudulent activities
Some drivers CBS North Carolinas spoke with are already wary.
“I go to the DMV site because I don’t want to have my identity stolen from me,” says driver Courtney Laws.
And because they are third-party sites, your transaction could be delayed getting to the state.
One third-party site is DMV.org and it does not charge you fees.
However, it does take you sites that do charge fees for their services. The website calls itself a “value added” company.
DMV.org’s Jeff Lerner says, “We are 100 percent transparent about the services we offer and the partnerships that we have with state agencies” and their aim is to “to simplify the DMV experience for drivers across the country.”
Lerner points out that a state DMV agency has to approve the use of pay sites DMV.org links to and that the state gets a portion of the money the pay site generates.
Remember, if it doesn’t say .gov in the URL, it’s a DMV pay site.
Here is the link to the NCDMV site.