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How to stop those annoying ‘You Won a Gift Card’ text messages

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The gift card text message scam is back with a vengeance this holiday shopping season, according to the Better Business Bureau.

Shoppers across the Piedmont and across the country are reporting receiving “You Won a Gift Card” text messages from strange numbers.

How the scam works:

You receive a text message. When you open it, you see a message informing you that you’ve won a gift card from a major retailer. To “claim” your prize you have to go to a website and enter a PIN.

The URL of the website usually has the name of the retailer in the link (example: http://www.bestbuy.scamwebsite.com). Once you enter the PIN, you must fill in your name, cell phone number, address and other survey questions.

However, as you probably guessed, no gift cards are handed out. The texts are just a way for scammers to collect personal information for “shady advertisers,” according to the BBB.

Sample text message:

“Black Friday Winner #88323! You have WON the Best Buy Gift Card for $1000! Get your prize at WEBSITE now! Use the code 5417.”


How to stop the text messages:

When you receive a spam text message, it usually says “text STOP to prevent future texts.” However, this is also a scam. This is a common ploy by scammers to confirm they have a real, active phone number, according to the BBB. When you reply to the message, spammers will often add your number to other spam lists.

The BBB recommends you forward the texts to 7726 (SPAM on most keypads). This will alert your cellphone carrier to block future texts from those numbers.

If you think you received a legit text message from a retailer, make sure the URL is directing you to a website like bestbuy.com and not http://www.bestbuy.(website).com.