NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — While thousands are still reeling from the loss of their homes in Kentucky flooding, their important documents like birth certificates, social security cards, and drivers’ licenses will help them get back on their feet as they apply for assistance. However, many of those documents get damaged or misplaced during a catastrophic weather event. Unfortunately, that’s when scammers will swoop in and attempt to steal personal information and money.
The Better Business Bureau has raised the alarm for flood victims to watch out for fake texts and lookalike websites that offer up help in replacing important documents.
Kentucky transportation officials said they’ve received reports of fake texts offering replacement drivers’ licenses to flood victims. While the text appeared to be from the KYTC, when an individual clicked on the link in the text, it actually took them to a fake website asking for personal information and money.
Similar reports have come into BBB’s Scam Tracker warning about lookalike websites that offer to help with multiple tasks like updating postal addresses or renewing ID cards. Those websites ask for an upfront fee.
However, in most cases, a person can accomplish updating important documents for little or no money, according to the BBB.
BBB has offered up tips on how to avoid falling victim to a fake document replacement scam.
- Confirm the URL before entering personal and financial information. It can be easy to click on a sponsored ad or impostor website without noticing. Before typing any sensitive information, double-check that the website and the link are secure. (Secure links start with “HTTPS://” and include a lock icon on the purchase page).
- Be wary of third-party websites. There are legitimate passport assistance services but check first to ensure you aren’t sharing your personal or financial information with a scammer.
- Make online purchases with a credit card. Users can dispute fraudulent charges made on a credit card, which might not be the case with other payment methods. Unfortunately, there is no way to get back the personal information you may have shared.
- Some state and federal agencies will replace certain documents free of charge when an emergency is in effect. People can find information on replacing cards and documents through the government.
- How to check for a secure link
- How to identify a fake website
- How to spot a fake text
- Replace your vital records
- Check for third-party websites
- Report a scam with BBB
- Contact Federal Trade Commission for possible identity theft
- BBB’s Spot a Scam page