Good news for drivers needing to renew their plates this spring. A recent FTC settlement means there are not fewer companies trying to fool you by just looking like the state DMV website.

Ted Hicks hated going to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles and waiting in line. So, during the pandemic shutdowns, he decided to renew online instead. Many drivers chose to opt for online renewals instead.

However, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) said many drivers like Hicks end up getting ripped off by lookalike websites.

“So I go in and just click all the buttons and renew,” Hicks said. “So I look at the website and it’s this third party, ” he added.

But, Hicks was charged over $100 by some out-of-state company. The BBB has warned about this for several years: lookalike DMV and BMV websites, not affiliated with the state in any way. The FTC went ahead and filed a lawsuit.

They reached a settlement with the company behind many of these lookalike sites. It is sending out over $100 million in refunds to people who renewed their plates between 2019 and the state of 2020.

While these sites are not scams, they confuse drivers and make money doing what you can do on your own. State websites will usually have “.gov” in their title. Lookalike sites will not.

The FTC settlement means that sites like”dmv.com”, Ohio vehicle registration, and Texas vehicle registration must now state prominently that they are “not affiliated with any government agency.

Drivers like Hicks, who have overpaid for renewals, may soon get some money back in the mail.

Even with these changes, if you go to a motor vehicle website for the first time, inspect it carefully to make sure it is the real state site, so you don’t waste your money.