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Text messages warning of unemployment fraud are really trying to rip you off, officials say

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Posted at 4:29 PM, May 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-17 19:08:17-04

UPDATE: Some Hoosiers, including members of the WRTV staff, are getting scam related texts claiming they're from the Indiana Department of Workforce Development. DWD spokesman Scott Olson says DWD will never text anyone asking for their information.

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INDIANAPOLIS — If you get a text message warning you about fraudulent unemployment benefits, it's a scam.

The Department of Workforce Development and the Attorney General's Office are reminding Hoosiers to avoid official-looking text messages that are really aimed at stealing your identity.

The messages claim to be a fraud alert from the DWD and urge recipients to visit a website and verify their identity.

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Officials are warning people about fraudulent texts messages targeting unemployed Hoosiers.

If you get one of these texts, DWD spokesman Scott Olson said you should not visit the website or open the links.

“DWD will not text you about your unemployment insurance claim,” Olson said. “DWD is constantly refining its fraud detection and prevention measures to combat these types of schemes.”

As the pandemic has left many Hoosiers out of work, the Indiana Attorney General’s Office has seen a rise in unemployment scam complaints. The office received just three complaints in April 2020, compared to more than 1,000 in March.

“Scammers are always coming up with new ways to try to steal your identity and your money," Attorney General Todd Rokita said in a statement. "If you receive a text message asking to verify your eligibility for unemployment benefits, I urge you to delete the message and file a report both with my office and the Indiana Department of Workforce Development.”

Lauren A. Houck, a spokeswoman for Rokita, said consumers should not click on the link or provide any personal information .

“These scams can be difficult to trace, but they are coming from everywhere including Nigeria,” Houck said.

The crooks are targeting unemployed Americans across the country and they are using websites that can look very similar to official government sites.

In Ohio, authorities last month warned of a fake website that looked identical to the official Department of Jobs and Family site. The only noticeable was difference: The url ended in “.com” instead of “.gov.”

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Ohio authorities warned consumers on April 26, 2021, about a fake website that was almost identical to Ohio's official site for the Department of Jobs and Families.

Anyone who receives a suspicious text about unemployment benefits can report it to the DWD at www.in.gov/dwd/contact-us and the Attorney General’s Data Privacy and ID Theft section at indianaconsumer.com.

"The fact that scammers are now contacting Hoosiers directly via text message shows just how far they will go in their attempts to steal personal information," DWD Commissioner Fred Payne said in a statement.

"DWD has many prevention and detection tools in place to thwart as much fraudulent activity as possible, but individuals still should take the necessary steps to protect their personal information."

Contact WRTV reporter Vic Ryckaert at victor.ryckaert@wrtv.com or on Twitter: @vicryc.