Back in April 2012, The Consumerist reported that around 4.5 billion spam texts were sent to U.S. cell phones in 2011 (“Yeah, and I got about 2 billion of those myself,” I remember thinking).
Yesterday, The Consumerist released an article that gives a little insight into how those soul-crushingly irritating “Free $1,000 Gift Card” spam texts actually work. The good news is: the FTC has 29 people in their legal crosshairs, whom they believe to be responsible for 180 million of those texts. The “meh” news is: what about the other six quadrillion spam texts?
Anyway, for those unlucky enough to fall for the free gift card text scam, here’s a brief rundown of what actually happens:
- You’re directed to a website that collects an awful lot of personal information, including medical data in some cases, before you’re allowed to proceed
- You are taken to another site that requires participation in a bunch of “offers” before you can get the gift card
- This required more personal data, including credit card numbers for “subscriptions” or to actually apply for credit
- You’re told you have to get (i.e. trick) three more people into signing up before you can claim your gift card
- You never, ever, EVER actually get a free $1,000 gift card, because if spammers actually delivered on their promises, they wouldn’t be spammers.
For the FTC to go after 29 people is a good start, but you know as well as I do there are probably a thousand more involved in these schemes. So if the “Free $1,000 Best Buy Gift Card” texts continue to arrive, just continue to ignore ’em, like always.