Scam alert: Text-based phishing scam pretends to verify vaccination status | Local News | #phishing | #scams


ALBANY — State residents are being warned about a text message phishing scheme asking people to “update” their vaccination status.

Phishing texts are fraudulent messages designed to trick the recipient into installing harmful software onto a computer or cellphone. They may also try to obtain data or sensitive personal information in order to commit identity theft.

The State of New York and many private employers recently required certain employees to be fully vaccinated, and scammers are exploiting the policy to try steal people’s personal and private information.

The scammers send an illegitimate text message impersonating the state Department of Health. The recipient is told he or she needs to enter their information to validate their vaccination status.

The message links to a site which is also fraudulent. Anybody who receives such a text message is advised to delete it right away.

Scammers use email or text messages to trick people into giving them personal information, according to the state Division of Consumer Protection and Department of Health. They may try to steal passwords, account numbers, or Social Security numbers.

If they get that information, scammers could gain access to the victim’s email, bank, or other accounts. Entering any information could put anyone at risk of identity theft.

To help protect against phishing or and similar scams, state officials recommend:

n Exercise caution with all communications you receive, including those that appear to be from a trusted entity. Inspect the sender’s information to confirm the message was generated from a legitimate source.

n Keep an eye out for telltale signs of phishing — poor spelling or grammar, the use of threats, or the website address does not match that of the legitimate site. If the message does not feel right, chances are it is not.

n Don’t click on links embedded in an unsolicited message from an unverified source.

n Don’t send personal information via text. Legitimate businesses will not ask users to send sensitive personal information through text messages.

n 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.

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