SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) — A relatively convincing scam text made the rounds this week. It claimed Illinois was giving out 1500 dollar rebates to help alleviate high gas prices
These fraudsters that try to prey upon Illinoisans with these scams are absolutely disgusting,” Spokesperson for the Secretary of State Jesse White said.
The scammers took advantage of the news about the state’s tax relief program, which launched at the beginning of July. The program promised property tax and income tax rebates, but there’s no rebate at all around gas prices.
There are some other red flags that show this is a scam, and these can be applied to most of these scam texts. First, this text comes from an out of state area code. Second, Illinois does not have dmv’s.They are called driver’s services facilities. Third, there are grammatical errors. Finally, all state websites will end in a .gov, not a .info.
But Haupt said that any text peoiple recieve should immediately be ruled out if they are looking for info.
“We are never going to send you an email or a text message asking for you to provide that type of information to us.”
Scam texts like that one became much more common during the pandemic — especially around the Department of Employment Security.
“I would say that after the pandemic in mid to late 2020, throughout 2021, we were seeing these scams pop up almost like mushrooms,” Haupt said.
The state upped their game to try and fight back against the scammers. The Secretary of State’s office has an email address dedicated to warnings about scams. If you get a text, they encourage you to send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
During the pandemic, the state built inroads with web hosts, and now they can call and get websites shut down quickly to prevent people from falling victim to the schemes.
“We also develop these contacts with Google and Microsoft and other hosting servers where we could make sure that we could shut down these websites asap,” Haupt said.
The Secretary of State’s office handles all of this on the front end, but if you are the victim of a scam like this, you should contact the consumer protection services at the Attorney General’s office.
In 2021, the Attorney General’s office received 14,146 reports from people that range from consumer complaints to scam reports.