Retail Texting Scam Hits the Heartland

By: Amaka Ubaka Email
By: Amaka Ubaka Email

A texting scam is hitting the Heartland. It all starts with a text on your cell phone from a retail store saying you've won a gift card.

You may think you've been singled out, but as Channel Six News discovered a lot of people are getting those messages lately.

Channel Six News received a few inquiries about the scam and decided to investigate.

Janet Chambers was one of those who contacted us to warn people about the text that hit her 13-year-old son on Monday night.

“He woke up this morning looked at his cell phone and said, "Mom look at this weird text that I got it said that I had won something at Best Buy,” recalls Chambers.

“I said; first of all how did Best Buy get your cell phone number?”

Chambers got suspicious and acted quickly. She called Best Buy’s customer service department and told them about the text. The retail store confirmed they heard other people complaining of the same thing.

It’s called “Smishing” and it’s an identity theft scam similar to "Phishing”, which uses emails to trick people into giving up their personal information.

The only difference is “Smishing" works through text messages.

Criminals are targeting shoppers at retail stores who fill out the survey at the bottom of their receipt for a chance to win a gift certificate.

They use random generated texts to make you feel like you won big. They then send it out and there's nothing you can do to stop it.

“It’s annoying because we have all our numbers on that do not call registry and so obviously the people doing illegal actions don't care about that,” says Chambers.

Best Buy is aware of the scam and has information on their website on what to do if you do receive a text. Their corporate office also sent us this response.

“Best Buy continues to pursue the individuals and entities responsible for using Best Buy’s trademark without authorization. We share the frustration of our customers, and are taking efforts that will put an end to this unauthorized use.”

The fraudulent text messages are not just targeting best buy shoppers. We’ve also received complaints about messages claiming to be from Wal-mart and Starbucks.

Thor Schrock owns Schrock Innovations Computer Company in Omaha. He says if you receive a text, don't click on the link because the address you see on the screen isn't necessarily the address your being taken to.

To check if the website is legitimate you can type the address on your computer browser or call the retail store.

There isn't much you can do to prevent receiving these fake text messages, but if you do become a victim it's important to take precautions.

“All you need for identity theft is a name, an address, and a date of birth,” says Schrock.

“You can do all kinds of crazy things with that information and that's what these people are really after".

He also says there’s a free app on your smart phone called "Lookout" that will give you basic protections against other nuisances on your phone like viruses.

If you have been a victim you should fill out a police report and contact your bank to put a fraud alert on your credit cards.


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