The United States Justice Department has recently warned civilians regarding cyber-criminals who are impersonating state workforce agencies (SWAs) in order to steal Americans’ personal information and other sensitive data.
According to a press release issued on 5th March, the department said that it received reports that there were certain bad actors who were creating fake websites which looked like those genuinely belonging to the SWAs.
The entire purpose of these websites is translated into the way that they are designed; to trick consumers into believing that they are actually applying for unemployment benefits and disclosing personally identifiable information and other sensitive data.
This information is then used by fraudsters to commit identity theft. Cyber-criminals usually send spam text messages and emails which include a link to a spoofed SWA website in order to trick the victims into accessing these fake websites.
“Unless from a known and verified source, consumers should never click on links in text messages or emails claiming to be from an SWA offering the opportunity to apply for unemployment insurance benefits,” said the department.
They further stated that anyone who needs to apply for unemployment benefits should directly go to an official SWA website. With 10 million unemployed people in the US, they also advised members of the public to watch out for phishing attacks and not to take any communications they receive at face value.
“Carefully examine any message purporting to be from a company and do not click on a link in an unsolicited email or text message. Remember that companies generally do not contact you to ask for your username or password,” said the department.
In case of being unsure whether the entity sending the email is authentic, they should confront them regarding it but they should not rely on any contact information given in the fraudulent message. Any person who has received such text messages or emails is advised to contact the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) and report the communication.