TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The Hillsborough County Tax Collector’s Office is warning of fraudsters booking up drivers license appointments and selling them to residents for a fee.
In a release on Monday, the tax collector’s office announced changes to its online appointment system, hoping to deter would-be scammers and free up appointments for residents who need them.
After fielding complaints about lack of appointment availability and receiving tips pointing them to the third-party sellers, officials discovered they were likely using software to monitor the scheduling site, “immediately snapping up available appointments, possibly through the use of A.I. and bots, preventing residents from accessing available appointment slots.”
A Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office investigation found the sellers were likely targeting minority groups, specifically the Hispanic community.
“This fraudulent behavior by individuals who are exploiting residents and denying them access to essential services is unacceptable,” Hillsborough County Tax Collector Nancy Millan said. “Unfortunately, appointment selling has become a growing trend across the nation, and in Hillsborough County, we are committed to putting an end to this interference and restoring fair and equitable access to services for all residents.”
The Hillsborough County Tax Collector’s Office implemented the following changes to its appointment booking process, according to the news release:
1. One Booking Per Person/Email Address: The new system only allows one appointment booking per person. The limitation aims to prevent the mass booking of appointments by unauthorized entities.
2. Enhanced Verification Process: During the booking process, customers are required to enter their Driver License number, a parent’s Driver License number for minors, or an alien registration number.
3. Residency Requirements: Appointments are exclusively reserved for Hillsborough County residents and customers are required to confirm this acknowledgment before booking.
4. In-Person Confirmation: In accordance with these changes, staff at the Tax Collector’s branch offices check residency and ensure the names and ID numbers provided at the time of appointment booking match upon arrival to the office. If they do not match, the appointment will not be honored.
These changes are intended to deter fraud and to make the process run smoother as the county’s population continues to grow, according to Millan. To book an appointment online, visit the Hillsborough County Tax Collector’s website.