App Freebie Texts: Phone Scam Overview
Mobile messaging apps are very popular these days. Kik has 300 million registered users and more users are signing up every day. People that use these apps are also very engaged with them, so they're likely to click message links that may contain malware.
Unfortunately, a growing number of scammers are targeting these users. Scammers often send messages claiming to be offering free gifts on the company's behalf.
Users need to be aware of the scams and take the necessary precautions to protect themselves.
How Does the App Freebie Scam Work?
While Kik has become very popular, it's also earned a sketchy reputation. The app has been used by unscrupulous people to conduct drug deals, exploit minors, share explicit content and bait users with scams.
There are a number of message scams users need to be aware of. They usually promise to reward users with freebies for their loyalty. They usually claim the user was randomly selected to make them feel special.
Here's an example of a message the user may receive.
"Congratulations! We have reached our 100 million user milestone! We want to thank you for being a loyal user, so you've been selected to receive free gifts!"
The link in the message will direct users to a page to trick them into signing up for paid subscriptions. If users sign up without reading the terms, they'll start being billed every month for services they never wanted. The users will probably never receive their free gifts either. This type of fraud is also known as cramming.
Unfortunately, virtually anybody can conduct such a scam. The perpetrators may be based overseas, which makes it difficult to trace and prosecute them. App users need to be on their guard to avoid becoming their next victim.
How Can You Protect Yourself from the App Message Scam?
You need to be careful using mobile messaging apps. Follow these tips to protect yourself from being scammed.
Always verify any specials.
Kik and other messaging apps don't usually offer freebies to their users. If you receive a message promising one, check the company website to make sure it's legitimate.
Be careful clicking links.
You probably already know that you need to be careful clicking suspicious links in your email. The same principle applies on messaging apps. Unfortunately, people are very engaged with their apps, so they're more likely to compulsively click links in their messages. Refrain from doing so until you can verify the link is legitimate.
Always read Terms of Service.
Many freebie offers come with strings attached. If you read the terms of service carefully, you'll see that the company plans to bill you for signing up for your free gifts. Read the terms carefully.
Confirm any statistics.
It's a good idea to confirm any statistics stated in the message. For example, if a message states that it reached its 100 million milestone, then you'll need to find out if that's true. A simple Google search will show that Kik already has over 300 million users. Whoever sent the message didn't do their research and isn’t affiliated with the messaging service.
How Do You Report This Scam?
You should report this to the app, for example you can contact Kik directly if you feel there is an issue. You can also file a report with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to report this scam. Make sure to note the app that the spammer contacted you and the number/profile they used to reach out to you.
If it’s a phone number that’s reaching out to you on a messenger app and you’re unsure of who it is you can search the phone number’s owner in our online phone book or in our free phone tracing app for iPhone.