Crooks get license to steal impersonating MVD

Don’t fall for a fake text message that appears to come from the state’s Motor Vehicle Division asking people to “validate” their driver’s licenses.

The texts started going out earlier this month, according to the agency, and are nothing more than an effort to vacuum up Social Security numbers and other personal information. They do that by including a link that people are supposed to follow to see details and make the validation.

The texts are not coming from MVD, and the agency is encouraging people not to click on the link.

“The messages appear to be a scam known as ‘smishing,’ similar to the email scam known as ‘phishing’ but which instead uses texting (SMS) to lure in victims,” according to a scam alert.

The messages come from a 972 area code and say, “New Mexico Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) Driver License Waiver Validation. Validate Your Details Below.”

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A sneaky Southwest Airlines scam has been hitting local residents in the past few months via Google ads that misrepresent an affiliation with the air carrier.

The fraudsters pretend to book new reservations or modify existing ones, taking the customer’s credit cards and information such as name, address and date of birth.

One woman got scammed when she instructed Siri to call Southwest Airlines and was connected to one of the bogus entities. (Siri is the Apple voicemail assistant.)

Southwest spokesman Dan Landson adds that some of these Google ads appear on mobile devices, with a “link to call” phone number that takes customers to the scammers.

Landson says this problem appears to be hitting other airlines as well,and that Southwest is “part of an industry-wide discussion with Google about solutions to the problem of these sponsored ads.”

The correct website address for Southwest Airlines is southwest.com

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Here’s another example of fraud-related texting, aimed at getting access to financial information and personal accounts.

Scammers are sending texts to potential victims, asking if they made a particular investment purchase.

When the recipient responds with a “no,” the trickster follows up with a phone call, claiming to be from where the supposed purchase was made or from the person’s financial institution and asks for personal information to track the supposed investment.

“The criminals are doing their homework,” says Kara Suro, vice president of fraud surveillance and investigations at Charles Schwab. “They continue to find ways to trick people into providing information via phone or text.”

Keep these things in mind:

– It is especially important to create unique and hard-to-guess passwords for financial accounts.

– Most financial institutions will never ask for your password over the phone.

– Contact your bank or investment broker using a published phone number or website, so you can be sure you’re reaching a legitimate source. Links or phone numbers in texts can take you to something fraudulent.

Contact Ellen Marks at emarks@abqjournal.com or 505-823-3842 if you are aware of what sounds like a scam. To report a scam to law enforcement, contact the New Mexico Consumer Protection Division toll-free at 1-888-255-9210 or file a complaint at www.nmag.gov/file-a-complaint.aspx.

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