A text message that’s no prize

A free iPad?! A $1,000 gift card? And all for clicking on a “YOU HAVE BEEN SELECTED FOR A PRIZE” text message you got out of the blue?

According to a recent FTC settlement with a marketer named Jason Q. Cruz, it simply isn’t so. Seems Mr. Cruz sent millions of unsolicited text messages to unsuspecting consumers enticing them with free merchandise. If they followed the links in the text, consumers were sent to third-party websites that collected their personal information and told them to sign up for trial offers to qualify for “free” merchandise. Instead, consumers ended up with recurring monthly charges on their accounts – and the promise of free merchandise ended up being anything but free.

So what can you do when you get unwanted text messages?

  • Delete the text messages. Especially ones that ask you to enter a special code, or to confirm or provide personal information. Legitimate companies don’t text or email to ask for sensitive information like your Social Security number, bank account numbers, credit card and utility account numbers, or passwords.
  • Don’t reply or click on links within the text message. Links can take you to spoof sites that look real but will steal your personal information.
  • Review your cell phone bill for unauthorized charges, and report them to your carrier.

If you are an AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, or Sprint subscriber, report spam texts to your carrier by copying the original message and forwarding it to the number 7726 (SPAM), free of charge.

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