BBB warns of text message scam

The Better Business Bureau of Central & Eastern Kentucky is warning about a text message promising a free gift card that is hitting cell phones throughout the area. Calls have flooded BBB phone lines today from people who got the texts, which say they can "claim" their "Free Target Gift Card" worth $500 - $1000. This message is NOT from Target stores.

The message in one of these texts received by your BBB reads:
Your entry last month has WON! Go to (link) and Enter Your Winning Code "xxxx" to claim your FREE $500 Target Giftcard!"

Some consumers that called the BBB report texts promising $1000 Target gift cards. "There is more to this text than meets the eye," said Jack Frank, President & CEO of the BBB of Central & Eastern Kentucky. "Once a consumer logs on to the link given, the page contains fine print indicating that there are 'offers' a consumer must complete in order to receive the gift card." The webpage also states, "…is not affiliated with, sponsored by or endorsed by any of the listed products or retailers."

The web site states that in order to receive the "incentive" gift card, consumers are required to complete numerous "offers", which can consist of providing credit or debit card numbers, or application and acceptance for loans and financial products. The consumer must also refer three other individuals to the program in order to qualify.

Lexington area Target store officials tell the BBB that they also have been inundated with calls about this text message, and they confirmed with corporate officials that the offer does NOT originate with Target stores.

"This type of offer is not new, and it can take lots of time and possibly money in order to qualify for the 'free' card," Frank stated. "Anyone completing the offers will have a lot of personal and financial information on file with many companies." Consumers completing the offers may spend a lot of time canceling any that are "free trial" offers or end up paying for those month after month if they don't keep track.

The BBB advises people not to respond to unsolicited text messages and delete them.

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