Text, email scam targets people looking to avoid a trip to the DMV


GRANITE CITY, Ill. – There is a scam targeting people in the St. Louis area who want to skip a trip to the driver’s license bureau. Illinois and Missouri drivers are getting suspicious text messages and e-mails.

COVID-19 pandemic extensions for plate and driver’s license renewals are ending. So, there are no more excuses for things like expired stickers or temp tags and putting off a trip to the one place most of us hate to go.

“I usually don’t come here,” said one driver waiting outside a license bureau in Granite City, Illinois.

“Yeah, it doesn’t matter how long the line is,” said another driver.

Identity theft scammers are aware of this and are texting links to cellphones and email addresses. The links take you to suspicious-looking websites with “cut and pasted” state logos, asking you to enter personal information like your name, driver’s license and social security numbers, and date of birth, hoping to trick you into thinking you can take care of something online Instead waiting in line.

A driver waiting at the Granite City license bureau said a clerk took a call from a woman who had been scammed while he was at the counter.

“She explained to her, ‘Don’t take that because they are scamming.’ It’s like a hacking deal,” the driver said.

Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White first put out a warning about the scam in late April and now has put out a warning again because the scammers haven’t stopped. The texts keep coming.

“We’re getting hundreds of reports just to our office that these texts and emails have happened,” said Elizabeth Kaufman, a spokeswoman for the Illinois Secretary of State. “These text messages are being sent out pretending as though they’re from the Secretary of State’s office or the Illinois Department of Transportation, asking people to verify their information. The Secretary of State’s office never asks through a text message or an email to verify your information.”

Just go to the license bureau.

Do not click on links, hang up on any callers wanting your personal information, and delete the texts or emails, warns Jesse White.

You can also report such scams to the Illinois Attorney General’s Consumer Fraud Hotline at 800-386-5438 (Chicago), 800-243-0618 (Springfield), or 800-243-0607 (Carbondale).

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