The Better Business Bureau is warning consumers about a text scam impersonating the government after Albertans reported receiving fraudulent texts linked to the recently announced affordability payments.
According to the BBB, there are reports of Albertans receiving a text message claiming to be from the Alberta government. The message claims that you can apply to receive the affordability relief payments by clicking a link. A recent example of this fraudulent text that one Albertan received read:
Congratulations! You qualified for Alberta's Affordability Action Plan relief payment. Fill out the secure form linked below to deposit your first payment. The consumer was then redirected to a banking screen to choose his financial institution
The provincial government clearly states on its website that it will NOT send text messages or emails asking Albertans to submit personal or banking information to receive payments.
“Scammers are opportunists, and they take advantage of announcements like this to try and get money and personal information,” said Mary O’Sullivan-Andersen, President and CEO of BBB Serving Southern Alberta and East Kootenay. “Ultimately they are after your cash and or identity.”
Albertans are being reminded that government agencies do not typically communicate through text messages and if you are in doubt, it is best to go to the official website yourself - without clicking on any link in a text message - to verify any information you receive via text. One should also ignore instructions to text "STOP" or "NO" to prevent future texts as this is a common ploy by scammers to confirm they have a real, active phone number.
One should also remember that scammers often send shortened links that don’t let you see where they really lead in the body of their text message. If you click the link, you could be directed to a dangerous website, or you could download malware onto your device.