The Better Business Bureau is warning consumers in Alberta about the possibility of a text message scam impersonating the government, in relation to the new affordability program.
Eligible families, seniors, and the most vulnerable Albertans can apply online through a secure platform or in person, to receive the payments.
The Alberta 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.
One Albertan already received a fraudulent message.
“‘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,” it read.
To avoid these scams, the BBB says to remember a few key things:
Government agencies do not typically communicate through text messages. Go to the official website yourself (without clicking on the link) to verify any information you receive via text.
Ignore instructions to text “STOP” or “NO” to prevent future texts. This is a common ploy by scammers to confirm they have a real, active phone number.
Don’t click on links from strangers. 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.
“Scammers are opportunists, and they take advantage of announcements like this to try and get money and personal information,” says Mary O’Sullivan-Andersen, President and CEO of BBB Serving Southern Alberta and East Kootenay. “Ultimately they are after your cash and or identity.”