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Nessel: Beware of food assistance text scam

Posted at 4:03 PM, Jul 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-20 16:05:37-04

LANSING, Mich. (WXYZ) — Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services are warning Michiganders of a text scam involving the state's food assistance program.

A text message sent to a Michigan resident stating, "FOOD STAMPS: You are eligible for food stamps. All you have to do is confirm with us within 48 HRS" with a link has been flagged as a scam. The message was traced back to the Chicago area.

The scam attempts to gain access to an individual's personal information. When it's done through text messaging, that's called "smashing."

"While this specific example doesn’t explicitly reference the State, it’s meant to make the recipient think it’s from a trusted source. MDHHS sends texts from a 517 or 800 area code, refers people to Michigan.gov websites, and doesn’t use outdated terms such as “food stamps.” MDHHS does not use text messages to notify people they are eligible for benefits," a release from the attorney general's office states.

Here are important reminders to help protect against similar scams:

  • Don't assume a text is legitimate because it comes from a familiar phone number or area code. Scammers use caller ID Spoofing to make it appear the text is from a trusted or local source.
  • Don't click on links in suspicious text; they could install malware on your device or take you to a site that does the same.
  • Don't provide personal or financial information in response to the unsolicited text or at a website linked to the message.
  • Don't reply, even if the message says you can "text STOP" to avoid more messages. That tells the scammer or spammer your number is active and can be sold to other bad actors.

“It’s so important for people to recognize a scam like this and avoid giving out personal information that can then be used to steal their identity,” Nessel said. “Bad actors are always looking for new ways to take advantage of unsuspecting Michiganders. That’s why our Consumer Protection team remains committed to educating people on these types of scams. I appreciate Director Hertel and MDHHS for bringing this to our attention and encourage people to file a complaint if they receive similar messages.”

If you need to apply for food assistance, visit the MI Bridges website here.