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No, Homeland Security is not telling people to stock up on gas and cash

A two-part text message claiming Homeland Security is warning people about a vaccination survey and to top off gas tanks and keep cash on hand, is false.

HOUSTON — A text message going around is making some big claims, including that the Department of Homeland Security is urging everyone to load up on gas and cash because of the war in Ukraine. 

The text message makes two claims: That cellphones are being sent a vaccine survey that steals your banking information, and that homeland security is telling people to make emergency preparations due to the war in Ukraine. 

The text message reads:

Cellphones are being hacked!

You get called and get asked if you’ve been vaccinated or not. Then you’re told to press 1 or 2 as an answer and boom all of your banking information is accessed.

Also, homeland security says because of what’s going on with Ukraine, keep your fuel topped off and store up some cash in case ATMs get hacked and credit card systems are unavailable. Please pass it on!

Several people emailed the VERIFY team to find out if that text message is real.

THE QUESTION

Did the Department of Homeland Security send a text saying cellphones are being hacked, and that you should fuel your car and get money from the ATM due to the war in Ukraine?

THE SOURCES

 THE ANSWER

This is false.

No, the Department of Homeland Security did not send a text message saying cellphones are being hacked, and that you should fuel your car and get money from an ATM.

WHAT WE FOUND

No, the text message isn’t from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS.) The KHOU VERIFY team reached out to several state and county health departments in Texas as well as the DHS and Texas Department of Public Safety, all of which say the message isn’t coming from their offices.

As for the first claim made in the text, when someone gets a vaccine in Texas, that information is entered into ImmTrac2, the state’s immunization registry. From time to time, state and local agencies do conduct surveys. But the one mentioned in the text message is not one of them.

The DSHS told the VERIFY team, “It isn’t one of the surveys being conducted by a DSHS contractor.”

So, if you get a call prompting you to submit your vaccination status, it is not from DSHS.

KHOU's VERIFY team checked with Harris County Public Health and the Houston Health Departments. They both said the calls are not coming from their departments, either.

Now to the part of the claim that Homeland Security is urging people to gas up and keep cash handy because of what is happening in Ukraine.

A spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security told the VERIFY team, “The Department of Homeland Security did not send this text message alert.”

We checked with the Texas Department of Public Safety. They responded, “DPS did not post this information.”

We also asked the Houston Office of Emergency Management. The Director of Public Safety and Homeland Security said the message did not come from his department either.

So we can VERIFY that the claims being made in the text message are false.

If you get a text message that you are unsure of, it is best not to share it until you check to see if it’s true.

RELATED: VERIFY Fact Sheet: 5 tips to spot scam text messages

The VERIFY team works to separate fact from fiction so that you can understand what is true and false. Please consider subscribing to our daily newsletter, text alerts and our YouTube channel. You can also follow us on Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and TikTok. Learn More »

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