NYS warns of scammers posing as state or federal agencies

Around New York State

FILE – In this Oct. 24, 2013, file photo, a person checks their smartphone in Glenview, Ill. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh, File)

(WIVB) — The state’s Division of Consumer Protection is making New Yorkers aware of a text scam where people pretend to be state or federal agencies.

The messages attempt to get people to click on links to official-looking websites with phrases and text like “pandemic stimulus relief,” “Treasury Department” and “government payment.”

These sites may look like they belong to agencies like the IRS or Social Security Administration, but they don’t. Scammers may try to get people to disclose sensitive information like bank numbers, driver’s license numbers or social security numbers.

Here are some samples of actual text messages people have received:

  • Treasury Fund Payment: “You have received a direct deposit of $1,200 from COVID-19 Treasury Fund. Further action is required to accept this payment into your account.”
  • COVID Relief Grant: “The IRS has deemed you eligible for the current COVID relief grant sponsored by the Treasury Clearinghouse, you stand a chance of getting a minimum of $100000 for being a regular tax payer, agent Davies Gran has been assigned.  Click the link below”
  • Unemployment Claim: “You have pending claim of $1,200 from covid-19 TREAS 310 tax ref.  Further action is required to disburse funds. Click here to confirm payment method:”
  • Stimulus Help: “From IRS-GO: You are eligible – Register for COVID-19 Stimulus Help MSG#: 123455668”

Scams like this may also come in the form of phone calls, where the scammer tells the victim they’ve fallen victim to identity theft.

State officials say you should never click on links in suspicious texts or emails. Also, any phone calls where you’re threatened with arrest, deportation or license revocation should be ignored.

If you’re concerned about a phone call, call a government agency directly.

  • Internal Revenue Service (IRS): 1-800-829-1040
  • Social Security Administration (SSA): 1-800-772-1213

An actual text from the New York State Department of Labor will come from 468-311 or DocuSign. A representative of the department will never reach out through text. Also, federal agencies never request personal or financial information through text or email.

The New York State Department of Health may contact you as “NYS Contact Tracing” at (518) 387-9993.

If you think you’ve been a victim of fraud, report it here. If you’re concerned about a scam, call the Division of Consumer Protection at (800) 697-1220 or file a complaint here.

Secretary of State Rossana Rosado, who oversees the Division of Consumer Protection, says “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.”

Evan Anstey is a digital content producer who has been part of the News 4 team since 2015. See more of his work here and follow him on Twitter.

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