OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. (KFOR) – The Department of Human Services said scammers are preying on Oklahomans through a text message scam that specifically mentions the department’s benefits programs, leaving the victim’s credit and banking information vulnerable.
“Our customers have thin margins in their families and so we certainly cannot afford for any of their resources to be removed from them,” said Casey White, the External Communications Director for DHS. “We’re very concerned about customers falling victim to this.”
DHS put out a warning Friday, claiming scammers were once again targeting Oklahomans with texts that reportedly look like this.
“Congratulations your number is among the random 150 numbers selected to benefit from The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program giving out $500 to 150 people just like we did yesterday. A person who participates or has family members who participate in certain other benefit programs, such as SNAP, SSI, TANF, may be automatically eligible. Click the link to apply, It starts now…”
At the end of the message, DHS said the sender provides a hyperlink to a phishing website. The user is urged to provide personal details like names, birthdays, addresses, Social Security numbers and banking information “for resource verification.”
“We would ask for similar information, but we would do it through official means through an application process,” said White. “We’re very concerned that customers might click the link, put this information in and not realize that they’re possibly exposing themselves to identity fraud.”
DHS said if you get a text like this, whatever you do, don’t click the link. Department officials said it’s best to just delete the message.
“If they have clicked the link, they need to contact their banking institution so they can make sure to put a freeze on their account or change credit card numbers, debit card numbers, those types of things, and then certainly report to the credit bureaus immediately,” said White.
DHS said victims can reach out to the federal trade commission to make a report along with credit reporting agencies.
DHS said it will never ask you to apply for benefits through a text message like this.