When Beverly Dejue got an official notice to renew her husband's driver's license, she headed to her computer looking to save time waiting in line at the Division of Motor Vehicles headquarters in Cranston.
"I was delighted because I thought, this is going to save us a trip to the registry this year," Dejue said. "I mean, we remember back when you packed a lunch and went to the DMV and stood in line all day to do anything."
But the website she ended up on is not run by the state of Rhode Island.
When Dejue tried to pay with her credit card, her phone rang almost immediately with some alarming news.
"It was the credit card company. If they hadn't done that, I never would have even found out," Dejue said.
The website she found is one of several run by private companies that are not owned or operated by the state. The websites use words like "DMV renewal," and "license and registration" to attract customers.
"(The) DMV makes every effort to notify the authorities if there's an illicit website, unofficial website out there," said Debbie Rich of the Rhode Island DMV.
Rich said the state is aware of the problem.
But look-alike sites may not be illegal. So it's up to consumers to make sure they're in the right place.
The only official site is http://www.dmv.ri.gov. The dot-gov is key. Avoid dot-com or dot-org sites, because those aren't run by the state.
Dejue now says she'll take care of the license renewal in person, even if it means waiting in line.
"It's a buyer beware type of thing, just like going out and buying something. The computer is the same way," she said.