Many of us have received one of those text messages promising a gift card from a major retailer.
The gift card text message seems like it's coming from a familiar store, like Best Buy, Walmart, or Target.
But the Federal Trade Commission says those major retailers have nothing to do with the texts and the people responsible are really trying to get your personal information.
The FTC is cracking down on the con artists. The commission is charging 29 individuals and companies from around the U.S. with sending more than 180 million unwanted text messages.
Spam text messages are illegal, and the FTC says these so-called free gift cards are anything but free.
If you actually click on the link, you have to keep putting in more and more personal information.
"As many as 13 different offers are required to complete--supposedly just to receive--this free gift card," said Charles A. Harwood, FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection. "The offers they're presented with include offers to apply for credit, offers to sign up for a free trial offer for various products. At the end of the day, after they complete all those steps-- 13 or more steps-- they're often presented with something that says, 'now find three more people who will fill out this information.'"
According to Cloudmark, a company that helps in the reporting of mobile spam, 60 percent of consumers say they received a spam text message in the last year. Blocking the messages is not so easy.
"The telephone companies have some methods to attempt to block spam text messages, but you need to know the number you want to block, and the problem with these scams is that the numbers change so regularly," said Steve Wernikoff, Federal Trade Commission Investigator.
Two things to know:
If you get one of these messages, the FTC says forward it to your carrier by typing in 7726 or spam. It alerts them so they can investigate.
Never text "STOP." It verifies to the attacker they have a real live number. That can make the text messages more frequent.
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