The most effective scams are the ones that capitalize on real things that apply to you.  Many people are familiar with the REAL ID, which is a new version of your driver’s license mandated by federal law.  The federal REAL ID Act established new security requirements for driver’s licenses and identification cards with which all states must comply and which will eventually be needed by you if you wish to board an airplane or enter certain federal facilities although you can still do so if you have a passport.

The original date by which you had to get a REAL ID was set at October 1, 2021, however due to the Coronavirus pandemic, the deadline was postponed until May 3, 2023.  This is both good news and bad news.  It is good news because it gives you more time to get your REAL ID, but it is also bad news because it gives scammers more time to contact you posing as governmental officials seeking your personal information under the guise of helping you apply for your REAL ID when their real purpose is to harvest your personal information and use it to make you a victim of identity theft.

The scam is turning up in many forms. such as emails, text messages and phone calls in which you are urged to either provide sensitive personal information or click on links taking you to websites that appear to be official where you will either unwittingly have downloaded malware such as ransomware by clicking on the link or, again, be prompted to provide personal information used to make you a victim of identity theft.

TIPS

No states are initiating contact with people by emails, text messages or phone calls asking for personal information to apply for your REAL ID.  An important thing to remember is that whenever you get a phone call, text message or email, you can never be sure you is really contacting you even if the email address, phone number or Caller ID indicates that the communication is legitimate.  This is why you should never provide personal information or click on a link in an email or text message unless you have absolutely confirmed that the communication is legitimate.

Sometimes, you may be able to pick up on obvious (or not so obvious) mistakes in the communications from scammers such as in text messages to residents of Illinois that purported to be from the Department of Motor Vehicles.  This is a mistake because Illinois does not have a Department of Motor Vehicles.  The name of its agency dealing with these matters is the Department of Driver Services.  In any event, if you receive a communication pertaining to the REAL ID, your best choice is to contact your state agency that deals with them at an email address you know is legitimate.

Here is a link to a listing of the websites for all of the state agencies that deal with REAL IDs. https://www.dhs.gov/real-id

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