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Walmart warns of text message scam

By Claes Bell, CFA · Bankrate.com
Thursday, May 24, 2012
Posted: 10 am ET

If you see a text message from Walmart letting you know you've won a free $1,000 gift card, don't start counting your No Boundaries flip flops and Old Glory jean shorts just yet.

Walmart sent out a fraud alert today warning customers today of a texting scam designed to steal victims' sensitive information:

There has been a sudden increase in scam text messages referring people to a site where they can "claim a Walmart Gift Card" by entering certain private personal information. These attacks that take place through SMS text message technologies to personal mobile phones are scams and are in no way sponsored by or affiliated with Walmart. This type of scam has come to be known as "Smishing" because of the use of SMS text technology. Similar to the way scam web sites send "Phishing" emails, scam artists have been sending text messages offering free Walmart gift cards to consumers in exchange for entering information on a mobile website. The most popular website being used recently is called "walmartgift.mobi." This site is not owned, operated by, or affiliated with Walmart.

Those unlucky enough to fall for the scam will probably see any personal information they provide used to hijack their identities and sign up for fraudulent credit card accounts, checking accounts and other financial products.

You can fight back, however. Walmart urges those who receive the text message to forward it to "7726," which spells "SPAM," an account the major carriers have set up to get user help shutting down text spammers. If you do so, you'll get a text back asking for the spammers' phone number, so the carrier can get to work kicking the spammer off their network and possibly launching an investigation.

Keep in mind, too, that the scam may not be limited to Walmart. I've heard reports of similar text messages purporting to be from Best Buy and other retailers.

If you've already given the spammers your information, you still have options that may prevent full-blown identity theft. You can contact the Federal Trade Commission at (877) 382-4357 and let them know what's going on. I'd also consider calling on of the three major credit reporting bureaus, TransUnion, Equifax and Experian, and placing a fraud alert on your credit record. You'll only need to contact one of the bureaus to get all three to pick up the alert, which will make it more difficult for scammers to start any new accounts in your name. Best of all, it's free.

What do you think? Have you seen any of these texts hit your phone? Have you ever been the victim of identity theft?

Follow me on Twitter: @ClaesBell.

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17 Comments
Pat M
June 20, 2012 at 1:40 am

I have been getting text messages for a month claiming to be from either Best Buy (never bought anything there) or Wal-Mart and saying I won a $1000 gift card. I knew I didn't enter any drawing, but was annoyed because my cellphone is on the Do Not Call list. I reported them, but now I have also fwd to the 7726 number. Great article, and I hadn't seen any reports on TV about it, either.

Richard
June 07, 2012 at 6:52 pm

My wife just got a text message from Best Buy saying she won $1000 Gift Card. She had just heard on the news about the scam and did not go to the link in the text message. A transaction appeared on our debit card account for a $10 purchase from Best Buy that none of us made. The new scam seems now able to go and get a credit card account and we think it might be the iTune account information that it now seems able to read. So you don't even have to click on the link and it can grab the card information. Bank said they had heard of it being able to do that now.

Chris
June 05, 2012 at 7:46 pm

I received this text,and being the wary person I am,deleted it.But not before talking to walmart mgmt about it and finding out the truth.
Be careful out there folks. For every form of communication we have,scammers will find ways to use it to scam people out of personal info.

Paul
June 05, 2012 at 9:26 am

If you receive a message of this type you should print 2 (two) paper copies, create a "fraud" file within your computer, move the offending offer to that file, notify your service provider whether wireless or internet, make phone contact with and file a report with the U. S. Secret Service and be prepared to send one of the printed paper copies to them.

Do this with each and every "offer" you receive.

I speak from experience.

syllvia hernandez
June 03, 2012 at 10:58 am

i have also recived emails from sprint and other sources that state you may qualify for up to $5,00.00 dollars simply click on the link. i always just delete from my phone but will now forward to the 7726.
thank you for this information because all the emails that i have recieved have been on my cell phone.
sincerely,
sylvia hernandez

Erika
June 01, 2012 at 1:05 pm

I received one on my phone this past weekend only it said it was from Target. It said I had one a $1000 gift card and included a code to enter into an enclosed link. Since I hadn't entered any contests, I deleted it and put the number on my phone's reject list. If it happens again, I'll definitely forward it.

Betty Schueler
May 30, 2012 at 7:17 pm

I just got the scam via the web. I was trying to access a web page and a site hijacked my attempt by telling me I had won a $1K gift card from Walmart. I just needed to give them a little information. I never click on any of these scams.

Siobhan O’Neill
May 29, 2012 at 11:50 am

I received a text message from Best Buy stating the same thing. I know I didn't enter any contest with them so I didn't open the text and just deleted it.

kat
May 29, 2012 at 4:42 am

i received a walmart text message on my cell phone saying i had won a 1,000 dolllar gift card. i basically said "yeah right " to myself and deleted it. i am so glad i didn't open it!! thanks for the information.

Gayle Capps
May 27, 2012 at 4:50 pm

Thanks for highlighting this spurious activity. You asked if readers had encountered similar activity with retailers other than Walmart. Yes. I've received email from ??? telling me that I've won a gift card from a CVS pharmacy that I patronize. Supposedly I had won a %500 CVS gift card but when I inquired at the pharmacy as to the validity of the email, none of the personnel had heard of any drawings for CVS gift cards. Since it was a weekend, CVS corporate offices did not respond to my phone calls.

I'm positive the email scam is what has spurred the phone scams too. I've not seen any TV info about this and my incident was first or 2nd week of May, 2012.