(The Center Square) – Illinois residents should be on high alert for potential scams.
That’s the word from the Better Business Bureau, which says the state has become a hot spot for identity theft attempts.
“In particular, they’re claiming to be from the Secretary of State’s office,” said Steve Bernas, president and CEO of the BBB in Chicago and Northern Illinois. “They’re basically asking you to click on a link or a text message, because something is wrong with your account or you need to update your driver’s license information or something of that kind.”
In one of the phishing schemes, scammers are taking advantage of long lines to renew driver’s licenses and state IDs by claiming to offer a waiver for services, if the consumer provides some personal information to confirm identity.
“A lot of governmental agencies are moving more towards texting information to the public or using a mobile app to update your information,” Bernas said. “So consumers really don’t see it as a fraud that’s going to happen to them.”
Unlike with email, Bernas says consumers tend to react immediately to texts, which can put their privacy in danger.
“People on texts are acting quicker than they would in the past,” Bernas said. “Everybody has their phones with them and they’re accessible 24/7. And the scammers found that a great avenue to do their work.”
Another scheme making its way around the state involves the Illinois Department of Employment Security. Fake websites, text messages and email have been created to trap Illinois residents, some looking for unemployment benefits.
“It’s clearly stealing your identity in any way they possibly can,” Bernas said. “They want to get your social security number. That’s gold to them. And it’s gold for anyone who wants to steal your identity. That’s probably the fastest and easiest way to steal it.”
According to the Better Business Bureau, the Illinois Department of Transportation, IDES, and the Secretary of State’s office do not send messages or emails requesting personal information from the public.
Bernas asks consumers who may have been a target of these scams to report attempts to the BBB, even if you did not become a victim.
“The only way to put scams out of businesses not to give them your business,” Bernas said. “We need this information to notify the authorities, but also to notify the public as well.”
Information is available at BBB.org.