Identity theft scams have continued to affect Illinois residents and many government departments in the state, the Better Business Bureau alerted the public Tuesday.
Scammers continue to reach consumers by text message, emails and phone calls pretending to help them out with licenses, State ID renewals or filing unemployment benefits.
As a result of the pandemic, many Illinoians have had to wait in long lines to renew their forms of identification. Scammers feed into the unfortunate circumstances and lure people into their scams, officials warned.
“Scammers follow the news and see situations that negatively impact people as an opportunity to take advantage of them,” said Steve Bernas, president and CEO of the BBB for Chicago and Northern Illinois.
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In one of the phishing schemes, the scammers send text messages posing as the Illinois Department of Transportation, the BBB said.
In the message, scammers say, “Illinois Department of Transportation Driver License Waiver Validation. Validate your details below.”
"This is classic identity theft. The text requires you to provide your driver’s license number, date of birth, and Social Security number,” said Bernas. “This is easily identifiable as a scam because driver’s licenses are issued by the Secretary of State’s Office, not by IDOT."
According to the Secretary of State’s office, they have been able to track down 218 imposter websites associated with these scams and shut down more than 130 of them.
The Department of Employment Security has also been impacted.
Scammers created fake IDES websites, text messages, emails and letters to trap Illinois residents, said the BBB.
Links will direct users to a site where they must fill out personal and financial information in order to receive unemployment benefits. With that information readily available to them, they can then file for unemployment benefits under the victim's name.
How to avoid becoming a victim of identity theft, according to the BBB:
- Delete emails and texts that promise or offer access to driver’s licenses or state ID cards, and do not click on any links in the emails or text messages.
- Consider freezing your credit for more protection if you are not currently seeking any type of loan. This protects you, the BBB says, and you can unfreeze your credit any time you like.
- Hang up on any calls, including robocalls, which ask you to take immediate action or provide personal information.
- Ask to use other identifiers besides your Social Security number, if it is requested.
- Keep computer software and virus protection up to date.
- IDOT, IDES and the Secretary of State’s office do not send text messages or emails requesting information.
For more information visit BBB.org.