If it’s not from the DOT, don’t give them your money.
That’s the basic message that the District of Colombia’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is attempting to spread in the wake of an apparent e-mail scam, where the agency’s name has been invoked while asking unsuspecting victims to pay up for overdue parking fines.
The scam involves an e-mail, allegedly from the DMV, with the subject line “Notice of Overdue Parking Violation(s),” which implores its recipients to immediately settle their unpaid fees, at the risk of having their vehicle impounded. The message then directs its victims to a dot-com website to make the payment.
How can you spot the imposter e-mail? There are a few red flags, according to the D.C. DMV.
The state agency has said in a statement that they have nothing to do with issuing tickets. Any communication about unpaid parking fines would come directly from the Department of Transportation (DOT) or a local D.C. police department, such as the Metropolitan Police Department or the U.S. Secret Service Police, among others.
Any e-mail correspondence from the D.C. Department of Motor Vehicles would first ask a recipient to log into their DMV account (on a dot-gov site). E-mails are also only sent to those who registered for the DC DMV’s email ticket alert system.
If the DMV were to communicate about unpaid parking tickets, it would only do so through the mail, specifically with the United States Post Office. Any legitimate mail from the DMV would also contain information on how to contest the ticket.
Finally, the DMV said, any correspondence from the D.C. Parking Authority is a scam, as there is no such agency in the area operating under that name. Washingtonians are similarly warned to be wary of any dispatches signed by “Y.U. Parcthar” or any allegedly DMV-sent message including the tag line “We Ticket, You Pay.” The D.C. Department of Motor Vehicles has never used that phrase in any of its communications, according to the state agency.
Anyone who has or believes they may have received a scam e-mail should report the incident to the Federal Trade Commission, which also has more detailed information on how to handle phishing scams.