If you receive a text message that says you won a $1,000 gift card from a national chain retail store, Federal Trade Commission says the offer is too good to be true.
FTC says text messages that promise a gift card are scams that are intended to collect consumers’ personal information so it can be sold to third-party companies for marketing purposes.
If a consumer receives such a text message, FTC says, then the message should be deleted immediately.
At least 180 million text messages that are related to this scam have been sent to consumers, FTC says. Recipients who clicked on links that are in the messages are instructed to provide their email address and are redirected to a questionnaire and special offers that ask for personal and credit-card information that’s used to set up recurring subscriptions to nutritional supplements, book-of-the-month clubs or identity-theft-protection services.
Consumers who followed all of the above steps were told that they would receive a gift card after they invite three individuals to take the questionnaire and sign up for services.
Among the eight separate cases that are related to the text-messaging scams, FTC filed a temporary restraining order in five cases. The order prevents a business or an individual from continuing to send deceptive texts. Court hearings are pending in the three other cases. FTC also is tracking the assets for each business in the event that a consumer refund would be issued.