The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation is issuing a warning to anyone planning to renew their driver's license or vehicle registration online.
"Unfortunately the sites can be very deceiving, a lot of times they look official but they are not," said Alexis Caldwell with PennDOT. "People just assume that they are going to a PennDOT sight if they are not looking closely."
11 Investigates found PennDOT has had to issue cease and desist letters to online companies that are misleading, representing themselves as the department, or online sites that charge for services that PennDOT offers for free.
So how do people end up there?
- Pa. man arrested in Ga. after allegedly traveling 700 miles to meet teen
- 300-pound Erie woman pleads guilty in crushing death of 120-pound boyfriend
- Pregnant woman choked at Steelers game Sunday, police investigating
- VIDEO: Sam Nover, longtime WPXI Sports director, dies at 77
- DOWNLOAD the Channel 11 News app for breaking news alerts
Someone uses a search engine website, like Google, and types in a query like "renew my vehicle registration or driver's license."
Several third-party websites pop-up and a user would have to scroll down to find the official PennDOT website.
PennDOT officials told Channel 11 third-party sites pay search engines like Google so their results appear the top.
If you prefer to renew your registration or driver's license online, go HERE.
To ensure it's the official website, check the wording on the left side of the screen.
The site was redesigned this past summer.
"All of the commonwealth websites have been redesigned so that they say official website of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, so it’s clear that it’s the real deal and you’re not on a third party site," Caldwell said.
According to PennDOT, if a customer believes they've been scammed, contact the Pennsylvania Attorney General Bureau of Consumer Protection.
© 2020 Cox Media Group