Scammers are impersonating government agencies using text messages, experts warn

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PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Scammers after your personal information have been pretending to be from Illinois government agencies like the Secretary of State and Department of Employment Security.

WMBD received multiple calls from viewers alarmed about the increase in phony texts.

The Better Business Bureau in Peoria has received 943 government impostor scam complaints this year.

“It might seem nominal at the time, ‘oh they are just asking me to confirm my driver’s license number, this is the Secretary of State, that’s fine.’ No, it’s not fine,” said Jessica Tharp, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau in Peoria.

Aimee Shinall, the victim services coordinator at Peoria County Sheriff’s Office, said scammers exploited the rise in unemployment claims from the pandemic.

“Right now unfortunately they pry on what’s going in the world today, and unfortunately we do have a higher number of people on unemployment and people are taking advantage of it,” she said.

Shinall said if you receive one of these texts, the best thing to do is to delete the text and never click on the link.

“If you get a text message that you don’t know the phone number to, if it’s a long-distance phone number, a number out of the area, or if there is a link attached to that text message, just delete,” she said.

Tharp said the best way to stop a scam is to report it to the Better Business Bureau. She said only 10% of scams are reported, so there are a lot more out there.

“The state agencies, any government agency… They will not send you a text message, period,” she said.

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