As many do in the State of Mass, I received a notice from the RMV that my car registration was expiring. The notice included a web address at which I could renew online. (Not go to the RMV and stand in line? Sounds good.)
I quickly typed in the web address into (NOTE!) the search bar in the browser. A list of web sites listed out with “Mass RMV registration renewal” at the top, I clicked on that. A web page came up that looked perfectly normal, the ‘Mass State Shield’, words “Massachusetts Drivers License”…
However after entering in Name, address, phone number and web address; on the left was a payment form entitled “Online Assistance Fee $24.99”. Now the amount on the registration form I received from the state showed that the fee for renewal was $60. “Online Assistance Fee”???
That is when I finally woke up and engaged my brain. I looked up at the web address I was actually on and read; “FormAssistant.org”. I wasn’t on the Mass RMV site but a ‘phishing’ site.
I cleared the screen and went to the address bar and typed in the same “www.MassRMV.com” address and immediately went to the right site. There is an important difference between the address bar (or address box) and the search bar. The search bar CAN show you the correct site you want but it WILL show you many others and these days the order in which the sites are listed will be determined by who is paying the search engine company the most. Also, an unfortunate recent practice is to put the ‘ADS’ on top. With a small ‘ad’ icon at the bottom.
Don’t be an idiot (like me) and enter personal information and (almost) credit card information before thinking and looking twice. And if you want to get directly to a specific web page, make sure that you are entering the address onto the Address Bar, not the Search Bar.
Even if I didn’t give them my credit card number, the phishing site does have my name, address and an email@address and home phone.