If You Get a Text About This, Don't Click on It, Police Warn
The messages appear to be legitimate at first glance.
Texting is a big part of our daily lives, with most of us preferring to dash off a quick message instead of picking up the phone these days. Thanks to its prevalence, scammers have also tapped into texting as a way to try out their latest schemes, and unfortunately, they've gotten very good at fooling their victims. Now, police are warning about one fraudulent message that could show up on your phone. Read on to find out what text you'll want to look out for, and why police are urging you to avoid clicking on it.
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The job market has gone through ups and downs.
Concerns about the job market and layoffs are palpable, as fears of a recession persist and the Federal Reserve continues to raise interest rates in an effort to slow inflation. That being said, the country is in a better place now than it was during the height of the pandemic, when unemployment reached all-time highs. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in the second quarter of 2020, the unemployment rate leaped to a staggering 13 percent.
While we're not fully out of the woods yet when it comes to COVID, the unemployment rate has since dropped to 3.5 percent in July 2022, which matches the pre-pandemic rate in Feb. 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor confirmed in a press release on Aug. 5. But that number includes a total of 5.7 million Americans who don't have jobs, many of whom rely on unemployment benefits for assistance.
Now, scammers are cashing in on this vulnerability.
This text message scam is targeting one group in particular.
If you get a text from a state department or other authority figure, you're likely to take it seriously. However, Danté Bartolomeo, commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Labor (CTDOL), is warning residents about a new text scam in which fraudsters send you a message about an unemployment payment. According to an Aug. 22 press release, the text instructs filers "to verify their identity in order to process their unemployment payment."
The message seems to come from ReEmployCT, but upon clicking the link, you're then taken to a ".net" address, the press release states. This is a telltale sign of fraud, as unemployment accounts can only be accessed via ReEmployCT.com, the agency warned. If you fall for this ploy, scammers can gain access to your personal information.
Connecticut isn't the only place these texts have popped up.
Unemployment claims will never be conducted via text or through social media, according to Bartolomeo. "We do not verify identity through text or on social media," he said in the press release. "We do not ask for account information or personal identifying information on text or social media."
But the CTDOL stated that it "expects variations of this text message to proliferate," and authorities are already seeing that pan out. This scam has also been reported in Indiana.
On July 25, the Indiana State Police (ISP) issued a press release warning about a similar con. The same general structure is used—the message appears to be from the Indiana Department of Workforce Development, says you have unclaimed money from the state, and instructs you to click a link that takes you to a webpage asking you to input personal information.
The ISP confirmed that the Indiana Department of Workforce Development doesn't communicate about benefits or unclaimed payments through text or email.
When in doubt, don't click anything.
The ISP urged residents not to click on unfamiliar links or provide information to an "unknown sender," as your private accounts and data could end up sold on the dark web.
The CTDOL is working with law enforcement at both the state and federal level to protect citizens from scams like these, but if you suspect your account or information has been compromised, you're urged to call local police. If you think someone has filed for benefits under your name fraudulently, you should also report that to your state's department of labor.
According to the ISP, the best way to protect yourself and your information in these instances is to ignore or delete the message. Rather than engaging or replying to the text, the CTDOL recommends searching for the organization's contact information in order to confirm the sender's identity. The CTDOL and cyber security experts also stress the importance of "regular account maintenance," which includes using different, strong passwords for your accounts, and changing passwords on a regular basis.