Every few months, a new scam pops up that seems to be everywhere. A new version is here! 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.”
How this 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 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 may also ask for your credit card information, claiming you need to pay a few dollars to ship the “free” gift.
How to avoid 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 either 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 directly 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 judgement. 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.
For more information
Avoid getting scammed by reading the BBB Tip: Spot the red flags of fake text messages. You can also find helpful tips at BBB.org/AvoidScams.