Be alert for tollway text scam, Illinois AG’s Office warns

I-Pass transponder

Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul is urging I-Pass users to be on alert for a scam involving unsolicited text messages intended to trick consumers into sharing personal and financial information.

Raoul’s office has taken reports from consumers who received scam text messages that claim the recipients owe money to the Illinois Tollway for unpaid tolls, according to a news release. Illinoisans are asked to report those unsolicited text messages to the Illinois Attorney General’s Office.

“Smishing,” or short message service phishing, is when a scammer sends a deceptive text message to trick a cellphone user into revealing personal or confidential information, according to the attorney general’s office. Smishing messages may contain links to harmful software that could enable scammers to steal information from your phone or computer.

“Consumers should always be suspicious of unsolicited emails and text messages asking for personal or financial information,” Raoul said in the release. “To keep you and your family safe from scammers, never click on a link from an unsolicited text or email, and if you think a message is suspicious, contact the business or agency in question using contact information from its official website.”

Residents also should not click any links in an unsolicited email or text and are urged to delete the message immediately.

Raoul also encouraged consumers to consider the following tips to help protect themselves from scammers:

  • Do not share your phone number or other personal or financial information. Do not give out your Social Security number, bank routing numbers, or other personally identifiable financial information unless you know who you are providing it to and why. Use caution when providing a cellphone number or other information in response to pop-up advertisements or free trial offers. This personal information can be easily bought, sold and traded for smishing scams.
  • Beware of suspicious contacts. Government agencies generally will not call, email or text you as their first contact attempt to ask for money or personal information. If you receive a suspicious correspondence, search for the business or agency’s official website, and call the number listed. Keep in mind that government agency website addresses typically end in .gov or .org.
  • Do not act immediately. Smishing scammers attempt to create a false sense of urgency by implying an immediate response is required or that there is a limited time to respond. Take time to verify the sender’s identity, and ask why the sender is asking for personal information.
  • Never open a link or an attachment from unsolicited, suspicious or unexpected text or email messages. Scammers can use a variety of tactics to hack email or social media accounts once you click a link or open an attachment. These actions also can lead to malware being downloaded onto your cellphone or computer.
  • Do not respond to suspicious text messages, even to say “STOP.” Replying to smishing messages verifies a phone number is active and willing to open such messages, which may lead to more unsolicited text messages.
  • Report phishing emails or smishing text messages. Call or file a consumer complaint with the Illinois Attorney General’s Office. Report phishing or smishing messages to the Federal Communications Commission online or by calling 888-225-5322. You also can report smishing texts to your cellphone carrier by copying the original text and forwarding it to 7726 (SPAM) for free. Promptly block the sender and delete all messages after reporting.

Raoul also advised that those who replied to smishing texts or clicked on links in such texts and emails to act to reduce the risk of identity theft by signing up for free bank or credit card transaction alerts.

Those individuals also should place a fraud alert with one of the three credit-reporting agencies or place a freeze on their credit reports. They also should update their computer’s security software, run a scan and remove anything identified as a problem.

Consumers should make sure they are using the most updated version of their phone’s operating system.

I-Pass customers can check their accounts online at or by calling 800-824-7277.

Shaw Local News Network

Shaw Local News Network

Shaw Local News Network provides local news throughout northern Illinois