CINCINNATI — Victoria Vassolo received a text the other day that instantly alarmed her.
"The text told me it was from the unemployment office, and that I needed to contact the office, it had to do with my benefits," the Bridgetown woman said.
The text linked to a site that mimics Ohio's unemployment page, but Vassolo had not applied for unemployment in years.
"I had not been unemployed for a long time, so it concerned me," she said.
Ohio Attorney General David Yost has just issued an alert after hundreds of calls and complaints warning that this is a scam.
Yost said anyone who receives this text should delete it. The sender's goal is to get you to enter your personal information on that copycat state unemployment page, and it might be very easy to fall for it if you've signed up for benefits in the past year.
"If you were unemployed, and with all the unemployment issues right now, with the pandemic, I can certainly see someone trying to find out about their benefits," Vassolo said.
Look closely and you will see the web address ends in .com, while the real Ohio unemployment website ends in .gov.
Vassolo's text also came from a New Jersey phone number — not a reliable source of information about unemployment in Ohio.
But are you an identity theft victim?
The Federal Trade Commission is now investigating similar texts to phone users in other states, including Indiana, and believes the fake site may link to servers in Russia.
Those behind it are apparently hoping you give them your name, birth date and Social Security Number.
The good news for Vassolo and other recipients: It appears the senders have no idea who you are and are sending the Ohio version of this text randomly to people in the 513 area code.
That means you can just delete it without worrying you have become a victim of identity theft.
Bottom line: don't reply to it, and don't waste your money.
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