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3 On Your Side: Text Message Scams

jim-donovan-web Jim Donovan
Jim Donovan is a 13-time Emmy Award-winning consumer reporter w...
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By Jim Donovan

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -It’s been just over 20 years since the first text message was sent and now Americans send billions of those messages a month. Scam artists are sending them out too.

Now they’re sending tens of millions of texts designed to get personal information out of you.

More and more people are getting text messages like, “get a thousand dollar gift card from Walmart.”

“it’s intriguing. It’s puzzling. It’s tempting and they end up wanting to click on it,’ said Charles A. Harwood with the Federal Trade Commission.

The FTC is cracking down, recently charging 29 individuals and companies from around the U.S. with sending more than 180 million unwanted text messages.

Spam text messages are illegal and the FTC says these bogus free gift cards are anything but free.

If you actually click on the link you have to keep putting in more and more personal information.

According to a study by Cloudmark, 60 percent of consumers said they had received a spam text message in the last year. And blocking those text messages is not so easy.

“The telephone companies have some methods to attempt to block spam text messages, but you need to know the number you want to block, and the problem with these scams is that the numbers change so regularly,” said FTC investigator, Steve Wernikoff.

The spammers are offering gift cards from big retailers, like Best Buy, Walmart and Target but the companies have nothing to do with these scams. The people behind this are individuals and marketing companies trying to gather your personal information.

If you do if you receive one of these messages, just delete them but the FTC says you can also forward it to your carrier by typing in 7726 or S-P-A-M.