If you’ve ever received an unsolicited text message for a “Free Gift Card” offer, you should know that the FTC is taking legal action against these spammers. As reported by The Consumerist, they’re going after text spammers whose free offers didn’t turn out to be free at all. In addition to personal information, the process for receiving the “free” gift card required provision of credit card information.
The ploy looks something like this:
- You receive a text message offering you a free gift card.
- You are asked to click a link to a website.
- At the website, you are asked for personal information, often under the guise of its necessity for shipping purposes.
- You are redirected to another website where you are asked to participate in a number of offers, such as subscriptions.
- To receive these subscriptions, you are asked to provide your credit card information and/or a credit application.
- Finally, you are asked to refer this offer to three other people to complete your eligibility for the free gift card.
Considering the elaborate process required for eligibility, the spammers sweeten the deal with something they hope consumers cannot resist: the free gift card’s worth of $1,000.
In eight lawsuits filed in four different U.S. District Courts, the FTC is pressing charges against 29 alleged text spammers. This is good news, indeed, but keep in mind that there are plenty of other text spammers out there, perhaps following a similar system, or hatching other devious means of luring us into deals that prove too good to be true. If we’re not careful, we may find ourselves providing personal and financial information that can be sold off to third-party marketers and/or used to commit identity theft which can result in a huge mess of things, not the least of which is the damage it can do to your our credit reports.
Your best defense? If and when you receive any unsolicited text message from someone you don’t know, do not open, and delete.