New scam preys on smartphone users - FOX Carolina 21

New scam preys on smartphone users

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One of the scam text messages a FOX Carolina reporter recently received. (June 5, 2012/FOX Carolina) One of the scam text messages a FOX Carolina reporter recently received. (June 5, 2012/FOX Carolina)

Scammers have found a new way to nab your personal information and maybe even your money.

If you've received a text message from Best Buy, Walmart or Target that you've won a free gift card, you're going to want to read on before going after that offer. Reports of prize text messages are popping up in the Upstate, informing the recipient that they've won a free $1,000 gift card for their entry in a drawing.

But store officials say this is an offer shoppers won't be able to cash in on because retailers aren't on the other end of the line. Instead, it's a scam the Better Business Bureau calls "smishing."

The messages typically include links to click on or numbers to call. They aren't associated with the business, and they may even carry a virus or request personal information such as a Social Security number or even money to cover shipping and handling costs of your "free" gift card.

"Sadly, people who do that lose the money, they never see the money again," said Tammy Dankovich of Upstate Better Business Bureau.

The Upstate BBB says they've gotten several reports of "smishing" -  it's the latest scamming trend. If you haven't received one yet, the Bureau says it's almost inevitable you'll eventually be a recipient.

"Smartphones are becoming so popular, more and more people are using them and this is another way of trying to scam people," said Dankovich. 

Large retail companies are also the victim of this new trend. In a statement released by Best Buy, the store says:

"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."

If you receive an offer from a company, the best way to know if it is legit is to simply call that business directly before clicking on any links or providing any information. The Bureau advises to never respond to smishing. They also say you should contact your cellular provider if you do receive any of these messages and have the number blocked from your phone.

Copyright 2012 FOX Carolina (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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