If you've gotten a strange text on your phone recently from a number you don't recognize with the promise of a 'free gift' and a link to click, the good news is, you're not alone.
The bad news is, you haven't actually gotten a free gift. According to the Better Business Bureau, it's a scam, and it's dangerous to click.
“In the past few weeks, the BBB Scam Tracker has received numerous reports of a text message scam that attempts to trick people with a ‘free gift’ promise,” says Steve J. Bernas, president, and CEO of Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. “This could be especially dangerous.”
How the Text Message Scam Works
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According to the BBB, scam-related texts read something like, "Your bill is paid for June. Thanks, here's a little gift for you," followed by an unfamiliar link to click.
However, the text doesn't specify what bill you paid, how much the total bill was for, or who the bill is from.
The BBB says, as part of the scam, a message like this may be actually be a group text sent to a dozen or more other people.
According to the BBB, the goal of the text is to obtain your personal information, which puts you at risk for identity theft. Some versions of the scam direct you to a website asking you to confirm your identity, or for credit card information in order to receive your "free gift."
How to Avoid the Text Message Scam
The BBB recommends watching for these red flags, to avoid falling for this particular scam:
- Don't click on links from numbers you don't recognize, and be wary of links forwarded by your friends as well. Scammers often use links and either an exciting offer or a threat as part of a phishing scam, in hopes of generating an emotional response.
- If you think the text message came from a company you conduct business with, call the company to confirm -- before you click on any links.
- Remember 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 likely a scam.
- If the offer appears too good to be true, it probably is.
If you have received a scam text a scam, whether or not you lost money, the BBB asks that you report it to BBB.org/ScamTracker.