HUDSON — Several Columbia County residents said a texting scam from a number pretending to be linked to the Department of Motor Vehicles is turning up, according to the county clerk’s office.
At least five people have reported a texting scam from a number claiming to be with “Motor Vehicles,” said Columbia County Clerk Holly Tanner.
“There’s been numerous texting scams in regards to DMV,” Tanner said. “This was the latest version that said a recent law made you eligible for a refund.”
The latest scam was shared on Tanner’s Facebook page and reads: “Hi its Jim from Motervehicle Dept. We just Issued a ruling that qualifies you to collect a Refund_Payment Avg. refund $900.”
“I know we all use abbreviations, and texting has its own language, but an official government agency is not going to send out a message like this one with grammatical errors or improperly spelled words, that usually is a good clue. But sometimes people just don’t know when they think that its from a government agency and they click the link, and the phishing begins.”
The text also includes a link which Tanner warns everyone not to click on. She said the texts are not from the Department of Motor Vehicles.
Several people have reached out to Tanner to ask if a text they have received was legitimately from the DMV, or if it was a scam. There is a wide range in the different types of texting scams people have received, Tanner said.
“It could be anything from your renewal notification, it could say you owe fees, you qualify for a refund,” Tanner said. “Sometimes they’re emails, but more likely it’s a text message. There was one early on this year asking you to update your contact information. There’s always a link to click and it is a phishing scam.”
A phishing scam targets consumers by sending them a link appearing to be from a well-known source such as an internet provider, a bank or others, according to the Federal Trade Commission. Phishing scams are ways to get a hold of personal information that they can then use to open new accounts or invade a consumer’s existing accounts, according to the FTC.
“What I try to tell people is DMV will never test you and ask you to click a link,” Tanner said. “I don’t even know if they do text messages, I don’t think they do, but certainly nothing where they would ask you to click a link.”
While five people have asked Tanner about the latest scam, she said none of the people who inquired about it said their information had been taken.
Tanner said people should not click on a link from someone they don’t know. She suggests if anyone gets one of these scam texts, block the phone number they received the message from and delete the text message.
“If you do get something strange, always tell people its better to ask,” Tanner said. “People can always send me a message or an email and ask, and I can look into it.”
The state Department of Motor Vehicles website has some examples of the latest phishing scams, Tanner said. Tanner usually reports a scam the first time she hears of it from someone to make sure others can be aware of it. The site, https://dmv.ny.gov/more-info/phishing-examples shows this latest scam was first reported to the state site in mid-June.
“The DMV would never reach out with a link and ask you to click for any reason,” Tanner said. “If DMV needs to communicate with a customer in regards to a refund, you’ll most likely get a letter in the mail, they don’t rely on cell phone or electronic technology to communicate information or to ask for information to their customers. These scammers are very creative in how they try to get people to fall for their scams, and sadly there are people across the state who do succumb to these type of things, so always ask if you get something strange or you don’t understand.”