ST. GEORGE – Reports of an ongoing phone scam involving text messages claiming to be from the Utah Department of Public Safety’s Driver License Division have led to state law officials issuing a warning the public.
According to Utah DPS, people are continuing to report receiving unsolicited texts stating a “refund has been processed.”
“This text message is not being sent by DPS or any driver license officials,” DPS officials said in a press release Wednesday.
If you receive one of these texts, DPS officials advise you not respond, as doing so may provide the scammer with personal information.
A sure way to know that the text is a scam is the fact the Driver License Division does not contact people over the phone, officials said. The division won’t ask for credit or debit card information, a Social Security number or any other personal information over the phone either.
“The Driver License Division will always contact you via a letter in the mail asking you to visit us in person at one of our field offices,” DPS officials said.
The only time the agency will interact with a someone over the phone and ask for information is when that person calls them first. Any information requested is used to access the license holder’s record.
Other potential driver license-related phone scams may also claim you owe money that must be paid immediately or that an identification card or license will become invalid or expire if personal information is not provided.
When unsuccessful the first time, sometimes phone scammers call back trying a new strategy.
Other phone scams that have made the news recently involve virtual kidnapping and threats of prosecution for missied jury duty.
According to the FBI, the virtual kidnapping scam involves a getting a call that typically has a recording of a woman on the other end asking for help, followed by a man telling the intended victim that a loved one has been kidnapped.
The scammer then asks for money and sets up an arrangement to deliver it. They also do whatever they can to keep the potential scam victim on the phone as long as they so they can’t contact the supposedly kidnapped family member.
Last week, Washington County Commission Dean Cox shared his story of receiving one of these calls. After hearing a woman he thought to be one of his daughters, Cox was told she had been kidnapped. Concerned for his daughters’ safety, he hung up and called them directly and confirmed they were both safe. Cox’s fear turned to anger when the scammer called back.
“We never got to the point of the conversation where he was going to tell me where to take the money. I just gave him a piece of my mind,” he said.
Missed jury duty
This scam threatens targets with a fine or jail time for missing jury duty in state or federal court, and is typically delivered through a phone call or email, according to U.S. Courts website. The scammer making the call will claim to be a law enforcement officer or similar agent of the court.
The Iron County Sheriff’s Office posted a warning about this scam over Facebook Tuesday. The Cedar City Police Department posted a similar warning in November.
“Recently, a few citizens have been called from scammers about missed jury duty,” according to a post on the Sheriff’s Office Facebook page. “The caller is using the Sheriff’s Office phone number (spoofing the phone number – imitating our phone number) and claiming they missed jury duty. Just like other scams they are asking people for sensitive information.”
Law enforcement will never ask for sensitive information or that money be put on a prepaid card to pay a fine, the Sheriff’s Office said.
“If you receive a call like this simply end the call,” the Sheriff’s Office said.
Anyone who believes they may have been a victim of any of these scams is advised to contact their local law enforcement agency.
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