Beware of private websites when renewing your driver’s license and tag

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By St. Johns County Tax Collector Dennis W. Hollingsworth, CFC

Private websites that resemble official Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) sites and offer tag and driver license services are preying on your trust, distraction and desire for a simple transaction. In many cases, they charge fees that can nearly double renewal rates and take weeks to fulfill your request – if they do at all.

The trouble begins when people use a web browser and type in a search, rather than typing in the website that appears on their renewal notices. Ads from deceptive sites appear at the top of the results list and lure residents in with seemingly official wording. Some sites provide an outright bait and switch, requesting customers to enter personal information, but then not providing any renewal services. For some, it ends there because the site is simply gathering data to sell. For other sites, unwitting customers purchase products or services other than a tag or driver license renewal, and become aware of what happened only when the transaction concludes and a receipt is provided.

Customers can avoid frustration by utilizing only the official sites for the St. Johns County Tax Collector – www.sjctax.us – and the State of Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles – www.gorenew.com. Additionally, starting with the May renewal notices, residents will receive their registrations with a QR code on the envelope. Customers need only scan the QR code with their smartphones loaded with the QR-reading app to link directly to the official site. Official sites notify the customer – prior to processing payment – whether a problem exists with the renewal.

A final word of clarification to those who utilize the official www.GoRenew.com website. Entry of your email address is strictly voluntary. It is important to know that if you provide your email address to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, they make available lists of email addresses to vendors willing to purchase such information.

If you have had any experience with scams while attempting to renew your vehicle registration or driver license, business license or any other business this office conducts, contact us immediately at taxcollector@sjctax.us. We will not be able to assist you in recouping any lost payments, but we will check your records for you to confirm whether the service for which you paid was processed.

If you would prefer to keep your email record private, you may stop by any branch location, call (904) 209-2250 or write  P.O. Box 9001, St. Augustine, FL  32085.