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New York officials warn of new wave of scam text messages

  • Updated

New York state officials are warning the public about a new wave of scam text messages designed to deceive consumers.

The state Division of Consumer Protection and the state Department of Health on Tuesday said that a text message phishing scheme is targeting those attempting to validate vaccine status to try to steal personal information. Phishing texts are fraudulent messages to trick the recipient into installing malicious software onto a computer or mobile device or designed to obtain data or sensitive personal information to commit identity theft.

With the state and many private employers now requiring certain employees to be fully vaccinated, scammers are exploiting that trend to try to steal people’s personal and private information. The illegitimate texts attempt to impersonate the state Department of Health and tell the recipient they are required to enter their information to validate their vaccination status. Anyone who receives such a text message should delete it right away.

"Scammers use email or text messages to trick you into giving them your personal information," officials said in a news release. "They may try to steal your passwords, account numbers, or Social Security numbers. If they get that information, they could gain access to your email, bank, or other accounts. Scammers launch thousands of phishing attacks like these every day. Entering any information could put anyone at risk of identity theft."

The state Office of Information Technology Services and the Division of Consumer Protection recommend the following precautions:

• Exercise caution with all communications you receive, including those that appear to be from a trusted entity.

• Keep an eye out for telltale signs of phishing — poor spelling or grammar, the use of threats, the URL does not match that of the legitimate site.

• Don't click on links embedded in an unsolicited message from an unverified source.

• Don't send your personal information via text. Legitimate businesses will not ask users to send sensitive personal information through text message.

• Don't post sensitive information online. The less information you post, the less data you make available to a cybercriminal for use in developing a potential attack or scams.

For more information on phishing scams, visit the state Office of Information Technology Services Phishing Awareness resources page or the Division of Consumer Protection Phishing Scam Prevention Tips page.


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