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Scam Alert: New York State warning about text message scam impersonating state and federal agencies

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Posted at 3:13 PM, Dec 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-03 15:13:09-05

NEW YORK (WKBW) — The New York State Division of Consumer Protection is warning about a text messaging scam where scammers are impersonating state and federal agencies.

The scam involves people acting as state and federal agencies seeking payments and sensitive personal information by offering fake grants, tax refunds, pandemic relief, and unemployment insurance payments.

"Throughout this public health crisis, scammers have been hard at work preying on unsuspecting New Yorkers," said Secretary of State Rossana Rosado, who oversees the Division of Consumer Protection. "This latest batch of scams prey on New Yorkers seeking pandemic relief by spoofing official government agencies. I urge all New Yorkers to be extra diligent and follow simple steps to keep your money and personal information safe."

The consumer protection division says you should never share personal information and never pay to access government relief payments.

New York State Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon said, "It is deplorable that these scammers are misrepresenting themselves during a pandemic to prey upon New Yorkers who need assistance in a time of crisis. New Yorkers must be more vigilant than ever in protecting their personal information and should never share their Social Security number or other personal identifiers over social media channels or via text messaging. Block & report these fraudulent accounts as soon as possible."

The state says to avoid falling victim to these types of scams, to take note of the following tips

  • Do not click links in suspect texts or emails. These lead to convincing impersonation websites attempting to collect your sensitive personally identifiable information.
  • Call the government agency directly to confirm communications, if you are concerned.
  • Hang up the phone immediately if someone unexpectedly calls claiming to be from any government agency and threatens police arrest, deportation or license revocation.