Labor Seal NYS Department of Labor                          

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Cell Phone Scam Targets Unemployment Insurance Recipients
New York State Department of Labor says Don't Reply to Messages

Albany, NY (October 22, 2009) - Scammers using cell phone calls and text messages are targeting unemployment insurance recipients in order to steal the unsuspecting victim’s benefits, the New York State Department of Labor said today.

People statewide, including those not receiving unemployment insurance benefits, have received text or cell phone messages that say something like “The Department of Labor has limited or deactivated your benefit card starting with (first 4-6 digits of card). Call: (various phone numbers) to reactivate.” If they call the number, they are asked for their full card number and PIN. Once the scammer has that information, the victim’s account can be accessed and funds stolen. Most, if not all, the scam messages have been received on the Sprint network.

The Department of Labor is working with Chase, the bank that issues debit cards that unemployment recipients use to receive benefits, to address the situation. The Bank has already taken steps to address the situation.

“This is absolutely despicable,” said Commissioner M. Patricia Smith. “The people behind this are stealing food from people’s tables and money they need to keep a roof over their heads. Please, if you get a call or text message advising you that the Labor Department has limited or deactivated your credit card, DO NOT call the number provided. Neither the Department of Labor or Chase will ever call and ask you for your debit card account information. I can’t emphasize that enough.”

If you receive one of these messages, don’t respond: delete it. If you have already replied and have given out your debit card PIN , call the customer service phone number on the back of your debit card for help. The Department of Labor is working with Chase to have stolen money restored to victims’ accounts.

For more information, check the Department of Labor’s website at