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.