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Bogus DMV websites are not new, but officials say they are becoming more prevalent and targeting people trying to find ways around lengthy lines.

by Randi Love, Appeal-Democrat / October 15, 2018
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(TNS) — Lots of people were already annoyed by being required to obtain a Real ID. (If for no other reason than the requirement lengthens the already-long lines at offices of the Department of Motor Vehicles).

But now there are worries that some consumers are being ripped off by scams based on the new requirement.

The Real ID is a driver's license or identification card that can be used to enter a secure federal facility — like a military base — or to board a domestic flight without a second form of ID.

Federation - Pass Sign Credentials International Media Id Press ipf Card If a person chooses to not get the Real ID, they can continue to use a non-federal ID that will have to be accompanied by a second form of ID, such as a U.S. Passport to enter secure federal facilities or board domestic flights.

Bogus DMV websites have been popping up across the web for more than 10 years, it's reported. But it's becoming more prevalent again since people are trying to find ways around the long lines at the DMV for the new Real ID.

Bogus websites pop up when people search for DMV or even when the letters are inverted like DVM. The fake websites ask for more than the real DMV would, so consumers should be wary when going online.

Artemio Armenta, a public relations officer with the California DMV, said they are unaware of any recent cases of defrauding in Yuba-Sutter or in the surrounding Sacramento area, but people should watch out.

"Nonetheless, we want to remind the public about websites that are charging fees," Armenta said. "These are unofficial websites that are charging customers to complete the electronic driver license and ID card application, as well as charging for DMV appointments and for other online transactions."

Armenta said the DMV received reports of websites charging customers a fee to complete the new online driver license application. The DMV's Investigations Division is looking into those websites for any possible violation of consumer protection laws.

"We cannot reveal these websites since it's under investigation because our focus is making sure customers know the DMV's official website: www.dmv.ca.gov," Armenta said.

In the past year, investigators with the California Department of Motor Vehicles arrested a man for defrauding more than 50 people by impersonating a DMV employee and falsely promisingly to "fix" suspended driver licenses and problems with vehicle registrations for a fee. He charged his victims in excess of $250.

"Scammers often times pretend to be someone you trust, like a government official, family member or a person from a company with whom you do business," said DMV Investigations Chief Frank Alvarez in a press release. "Never send money or give out your personal information to anyone who is soliciting their services."

Armenta said the DMV has thousands of registration service business partners authorized to conduct vehicle registration transactions and charge a fee. "You can find more information on our website: https://www.dmv.ca.gov/portal/dmv/detail/bp -- locator/bplocator -- top," he said.

The Real ID has also led people to be more frantic than they need to be. According to the DMV website, the Real ID Act does not go into effect until Oct. 1, 2020, but it is suggested that it be applied for as soon as possible.

To apply, citizens must visit a DMV field office and present original or certified documents (no photocopies) proving their identity, such as a birth certificate or passport, Social Security card, and residency like a utility bill with a name and address on it, photocopies accepted, according to the DMV website. Additional original or certified documents are also required if someone has changed their legal name.

It costs $35 for a driver's license and $30 for an ID card.

For a non-federal compliant card, citizens can renew online or mail if eligible, without going into a DMV field office. Citizens cannot use it to board a domestic flight or enter a secure federal facility that requires identification -- such as a military base -- starting Oct. 1, 2020, according to the DMV website.

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©2018 Appeal-Democrat (Marysville, Calif.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.