Legions of shoppers across the country report receiving spam text messages, called smishing, saying they've won pricey gift cards.
How the scam works:
You receive a text message. When you open it, you are surprised by a message informing you that you've won a gift card from BestBuy, Target, Walmart or another major retailer. You're instructed to go to a website, enter a PIN and the card is yours.
Although the text's URL leads to a website that has the company's colors and logo, the web address has a sub-domain not associated with the actual retailer (example: www.bestbuy.scamwebsite.com).
After providing the PIN and an email address, you're taken to a form that asks for your name, cell number and mailing address. You're also asked to answer such unrelated personal questions as "Are you interested in going back to school?" or "Are you diabetic?"
When you reach the page to "claim your gift card," you instead find yourself directed to another site to apply for a credit card.
Better Business Bureau warns that smishing texts are a clever way for shady advertisers to collect personal information.
A typical text message might read: "Black Friday Winner #88323! You have WON the Best Buy Gift Card for $1000! Get your prize at (website address) now! Use the code 5417."
What to do about these scam messages? The Better Business Bureau advises:
• Ignore instructions to text "STOP" or "NO" to prevent future texts. This is a common ploy by scammers to confirm you have a real, active phone number.
• Forward the texts to 7726 (SPAM on most keypads). This will alert your cellphone carrier to block future texts from these numbers.
If you think your text message is real, be sure it's directing to a web address such as Bestbuy.com or Target.com, not www.bestbuy.otherwebsite.com .
And as always, if you think getting a free $1,000 gift card seems too good to be true, it probably is.
For more consumer tips and information, visit wynco.bbb.org or phone 970-484-1348 or 800-564-0371.