Recent activity at the BBB reveals local consumers have been receiving a text message (a smishing scam) claiming they won a $1,000 Best Buy, Target, Wal-Mart, ETC. gift card. The text is actually an offer to apply for a loan.
“Be careful when responding to unsolicited text messages,” says Janna Kiehl, CEO of the BBB. “You may be replying to a solicitation.”
A BBB investigation into one of the gift cards found these disclosures in the fine print:
· You must be “accepted” to receive the card. Being “accepted” comes with program requirements.
· “Eligible members” must complete “reward offers” and refer 3 friends to do the same.
· Completion of reward offers most often requires a purchase or filing a credit application and being accepted for a financial product such as a credit card or consumer loan.
· The manufacturers and retailers of the gift items offered have not endorsed the promotion and are not affiliated with the promotion in anyway.
· Your information will be shared with the site’s marketing partners.
· For product trial offers you must typically pay a fee for shipping and/or processing.
· If you do not cancel within the trial period you will be billed at the Reward’s posted rate.
It is unlikely you won a gift card free and clear. You may have won the opportunity to apply for a loan that you would receive in the form of a gift card. But there are strings attached, lots of them. Be a wise consumer by taking note of the tips below:
- Most business will not communicate with you via text message. If you do not recognize the website or phone number being sent to you, don't visit or call it.
- Avoid e-mailing and texting personal and financial information. If you have determined the website to be legitimate and do decide to submit financial information, look for the "lock" icon on the browser's status bar. It signals that your information is secure during transmission.
- But first, Start With Trust. Look up any company free at www.bbb.org.
- Review your credit card and bank account statements as soon as you receive them to determine whether there are any unauthorized charges. If your statement is late, call your credit card company or bank to confirm your billing address and account balances.