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Media > Newsletters > Consumer Advocate > September 2012 > Text Message Scam: ‘You’ve Won a $1,000 Gift Card!’

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Text Message Scam: ‘You’ve Won a $1,000 Gift Card!’

You’ve been a loyal customer for years, and now, unexpectedly, you receive a text message saying you’ve won a $1,000 gift card for one of your favorite stores. Is it too good to be true? You bet.
In the past year, dozens of consumers have reported text message scams to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office. The most common variation is a message claiming the recipient has won a gift card to a popular chain store.
The text message often asks consumers to call a phone number or visit a website listed in the message. If consumers call or click on the link, they likely will be asked to provide their personal information, such as their name, address, phone number, Social Security number, and/or bank account information.
If you receive such a message, do not respond. It is likely a scam. By responding, you are telling the scammer that your phone number is active and belongs to a real person. With this information, the scammer may sell your phone number to other con artists or begin sending you more scam messages. You also may be putting your personal information at risk.
Watch out for other variations of the scam, including text messages claiming that you:
  • Won money or a desirable item, such as a new smart phone;
  • Must confirm your bank account information because it has been accessed or deactivated;
  • Have been selected for a work opportunity; or
  • Owe money and must pay immediately or face serious harm.
Most consumers who report potential text message scams do not fall for the ploy. But in some cases, consumers say they responded to the message by clicking on a website link or calling a phone number included in the message. This can put their personal information at risk. 
To protect yourself from text message scams:
  • Don’t respond to an unexpected or suspicious text message.
  • Contact your cell phone company and ask it to block the number that sent the text messages. Also ask about permanently blocking messages or calls sent via the Internet — the likely source of many scam text messages.
  • Beware of caller ID spoofing. Scammers can use technology to “spoof” or disguise the number that appears on your caller ID, so be skeptical of unfamiliar numbers that appear on your caller ID.
  • Check websites’ privacy policies before submitting any personal information, including your cell phone number. Do not submit your cell phone number on websites that you don’t know or trust.
  • Register your cell phone number with the National Do Not Call Registry. Visit or call 888-382-1222. Keep in mind that scammers may continue to contact you even after you register.
  • If you believe your personal information is at risk, consider placing an alert or freeze on your credit report(s), notifying your bank(s), and watching for any unusual mail or bank statements.
Report unwanted text messages by forwarding them to SPAM (7726), if accepted by your cell phone provider. You also can contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office to report potential scams or learn more about scams.