Every few months, a new scam pops up that seems to be everywhere. In the past few weeks, BBB Scam Tracker has received numerous reports of a text message scam that attempts to trick people with the promise of a “free gift.”
Here is how the scam works: You receive a text message that says something like this: “Your bill is paid for March. Thanks, here’s a little gift for you.” This message is followed by a link to an unfamiliar website.
The text doesn’t specify what bill you paid, what company the message is coming from or what the total amount was. Even more disturbing, the message may be a group text sent to a dozen or more other people, none of whom are in your contacts list.
The text isn’t from a real company. The goal is to get your personal information, which puts you at risk for identity theft.
In some versions of the scam, you may be directed to a website asking you to “confirm your identity,” so you can receive the gift. Scammers also might ask for credit card information, claiming you need to pay a few dollars to ship the “free” gift.
The Better Business Bureau offers these tips for avoiding text scams:
• Don’t click on links from strangers. In fact, be wary of suspicious links forwarded to you by friends, too. Even well-meaning friends may forward suspicious links without realizing they’ve been scammed. Scammers often use links along with an exciting offer or a threat as part of a phishing scam. They want to elicit an emotional response from you, so you’ll click on the link without thinking.
• Call the company directly to confirm messages sent by text. If you think the message came from a company you do business with, call them before you click on any links. Keep in mind that businesses need your permission to send you text messages. If you never opted in to receive text messages from a company, the text is probably a scam.
• Use good judgment. Scammers love to trick people with offers that are too good to be true. If you get a message promising you’ll receive an amazing gift for free, it’s probably a scam.
If you’ve spotted a scam, whether or not you’ve lost money, report it to BBB Scam Tracker at BBB.org/ScamTracker. Your report can help others avoid falling victim to scams. And learn how to spot a scam at BBB.org/SpotAScam.
Reanna Smith-Hamblin is president and CEO of the Better Business chapter serving this region. She can be reached at 502-588-0043 or firstname.lastname@example.org.