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Helpful tip for Mass newbies: We don't have a DMV, we have an RMV

The Registry of Motor Vehicles is warning of counterfeit Web sites that seek to slurp some money out of your bank account by pretending to offer the sort of services - for a fee - that only a legitimate state agency should offer motorists, for free.

  • Massachusetts uses the abbreviation “RMV.” Any website using the phrase “Department of Motor Vehicles” or “DMV” should be avoided.
  • Make sure the Commonwealth’s seal is located somewhere on the page. This will help ensure that it is an official government website. If it cannot be found, customers should leave the site immediately.
  • The Registry will never charge a customer to check the status of a license, registration, or title. If the site requires payment to access this information, it is an unsecured mimic site.
  • At Mass.gov/RMV, a customer will never be charged to access Registry forms and information, but unofficial third-party sites may charge for this service. Their information is also not guaranteed to be accurate.
  • The Registry never charges for address changes. If a customer uses a mimic site, the change cannot be guaranteed to have actually gone through.
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Comments

This is a problem nationwide. The root of it is that many state/county DMV websites are horrible. Information is incomplete or missing ("too much information would confuse people" is that attitude of many government employees in charge of those sites). Many processes are not documented ("people can call if they really need to know this"). Fees are absent ("people sometimes write a check before visiting, and it's the wrong amount, so better to not list the fees on the website").

The result of those problems is it leaves space for sites like DMV.ORG by providing (usually) accurate information. They rise to the top of the google, and then, there are plenty of knock offs which can be malicious right below them.

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https://www.usability.gov Is actually a really helpful resource for folks thinking through user experience.

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I no longer live in MA, and the city I live in requires pet licensing. A few months after I adopted my cat, I get a postcard claiming to be from "County Animal Licensing co/PetData," listing my cat's shelter nickname, sex, and spay status, instructing me to visit a website or call an 800 number, and threatening fines if I do not comply.

I go to the website and it is some third-party company, located in Texas, with no mention of my state, county, or city, and suspicious web design/layout. I think it's fraud and leave the site to go do some research on my county's official website- using the navigation menus, not the site's search box. I discover that this company in Texas is actually contracted by my county to handle such things, and it is in fact not a scam.

I've since learned that this phenomenon is widespread, with governments contracting out common things like water billing, parking tickets, fee collection, and citation fines to third-party companies.

If governments are going to have horrible sites and also subcontract a portion of their web operations to shadowy third-party vendors with equally horrible sites, how is the average person supposed to be able to tell the difference?

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As much as I’m annoyed with the Registry (its not all that bad), I’m proud to say we have a Registry, and not a DMV, almost sound like we are better than other states with their inferior DMV.

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?

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It falls in line with the nomenclature used by several other record-keeping state agencies: Registry of Deeds, Registry of Probate, Registry of Vital Statistics...

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of my car registration, or my driver's license, that I prefer to go to the registry of Motor Vehicles in person, despite the possibility of having to wait in line for awhile, and to renew my car registration via mail. There are far too many hackers out on the internet for comfort!

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click on an "ad" link from a Google search. Always make sure you're clicking on one of the legitimate hits, NOT the ads masquerading as hits that Google puts at the top of the list.

I did this once when I was tired and stressed and trying to get health insurance, thought I was at the MA Health Connector website, filled in the info, and got utterly pounded with spam for months after that.

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Don't use Google, use a search engine that doesn't turn you into the product.

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