SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WTVO) — The Illinois Secretary of State is issuing a warning after residents reported receiving scam text messages from the DMV. Criminals are looking to get their hands on your Social Security Number.
Experts say fraudulent text messages are on the rise because of COVID and it’s important to slow down to avoid oversharing.
“As careful as we have become using email, we must become equally as cautious when we receive a text message,” said Rockford Region’s BBB Office Director Dennis Horton.
Horton and the BBB say ‘smishing’ scams involving text messages have actually been around for years, but they are becoming more problematic now than ever before.
“If you have a cellphone, the chances of your getting a text message are pretty good today,” said Horton. “Let’s blame it on the pandemic. With the growth in all kinds of scams, smishing came along with that.”
Messages will look like they are coming from your bank, credit card companies, or even local government officials.
Recently, Illinois scammers have been trying to get people’s personal information by claiming they are with the Secretary of State’s office.
“The Secretary of State’s Office never requests that information via email or text,” said Beth Kaufman, the spokesperson for the Illinois Secretary of State. “Please beware, if you get one of these texts or emails, delete it, do not respond, do not put out your personal information.”
According to Secretary of State Jesse White, scammers are sending unsolicited texts and emails which appear to have official logos and mastheads from his office.
White says these texts and emails are scams and recipients should not click on any links or provide any information. Visiting these various fraudulent websites could place malware on the recipients’ devices or trick them into disclosing sensitive personal information.
“Delete the text or email,” said White. “Do not click on them and do not provide any of your personal information.”
White encourages people to take steps to protect their personal information:
- Delete emails and texts that promise or offer access to driver’s licenses or state ID cards, and do not click on any links contained in such emails or text messages, as they may place malware on your devices.
- Hang up on any calls, including robocalls, which ask individuals to take immediate action or provide personally-identifiable information, such as your Social Security number or bank account number.
- Ask to use other types of identifiers besides your Social Security number.
- Keep your software up to date, including your phone and computer operating systems and antivirus protection programs. Most phones, computers and antivirus software can be set to update automatically when new software versions are released.
If you have questions about text message scams or identity theft, please call the Illinois Attorney General’s Consumer Fraud Hotline at 800-386-5438 (Chicago), 800-243-0618 (Springfield) or 800-243-0607 (Carbondale).