Be wary of text messages offering free Walmart and other gift cards

BBB warns consumers about rise in SMiShing attacks

Better Business Bureau is warning consumers to be wary of text messages offering free Walmart and other well-known retailer gift cards. The link in the text message leads to a website asking for consumers’ information, such as credit card information and birth dates.

“We are concerned about these scam text messages because in many cases they are using well-established brand names to build trust,” says Danielle Primrose, President and CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Mainland B.C. “We urge consumers to verify the source and contact their telecommunications provider to report anything that may be fraudulent.”

SMiShing is defined as a phishing scams that are sent over Short Message Service (SMS) text messages on cell phones and smart phones.

Text messages such as “Congratulations, you’ve won!” and “Enter code 6655 to claim your $1000 gift card” are all red flags that a “SMiShing” scam is in the midst. The most recent SMiShing message instructs people to call a toll-free number or visit a website to redeem the free $1,000 Best Buy, Wal-Mart or Target gift card. Many of these messages come with embedded links that can ultimately spread viruses to the phone if clicked.

If you receive SMiShing scams, BBB advises you:

Don’t fall for it. Know that retailers or others generally don’t just give away very valuable gift cards or products for free. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Do not reply. Replying to a spam text only verifies that your number is active, which will result in more texts.

Do not click any links. If a text is not solicited by you, do not click any links that are contained in the text.

Keep your information private. Never give out any sensitive information such as social security numbers or bank account numbers.

Report SMiShing texts. Contact your local BBB to report any scams you receive and forward any SMiShing texts to your cell phone provider.

Ask your service provide to “block texts from the internet”

Many cell providers will let you turn on a feature that will block texts that come in from the internet. This is an easy way to reduce spam and SMiShing attempts.

For more consumer information, visit the Better Business Bureau website: www.mbc.bbb.org