BestBuy / Target / Netflix Text Message: Phone Scam Overview

Who can resist the offer for a free gift card to Target, Walmart or BestBuy around the holidays. An extra hundred dollars or so can go a long way in paying for gifts for loved ones, or yourself. However, these calls telling you that you've randomly won a gift card or can receive one for just taking a simple survey are too good to be true. Just like the free vacation phone scam and Jamaican lottery phone scam, phoney gift card offers will only lead to potential financial loss or compromised personal information.

Below are details on the different variations of the free gift card scam and information on how you can steer clear of it.

Variations of the Scam

Gift card phone scams come in a variety of different forms, but the basic setup is always the same. Usually, you will receive a call or text message claiming that popular retailer, or even a site like Netflix or Amazon, is giving away gift cards worth hundreds of dollars.

In some cases, the call or text may claim that these gift cards are only available to the first 1,000 people who sign up. The scammers say this to create a sense of urgency and make the recipient of the text throw caution to the wind to sign up for this card. When the initial contact is via text it will typically include a link to a website where you will have to sign up to take advantage of this gift card. By following the link and going to the site you can put yourself at risk to downloading malware on your phone.

If you end up giving information to the caller or texter you end up putting your information at risk of being sold to third-parties and identity theft. You will never actually receive the gift card promised to you and it's likely the amount of spam calls and spam texts you receive will increase. 

How to Avoid the Scam

Retailers will not randomly call or text offering free gift cards. If you've received a call or text claiming to be from Walmart or Target, hang up and contact the company directly. You will be able to find out firsthand whether or not this claim is legitimate or if it is a scam. If it is a scam you'll be able to bring this to the attention of the company so that they can warn other customers to avoid these calls and texts.

Reporting the Scammers

If you've been contacted by a gift card scammer the best thing that you can do is report it to both the company they claimed to be representing and to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). You can also help warn others by leaving your feedback in CallerSmart's online yellow pages directory, when another user gets a call from a suspicious number they can look it up in our phone book and see your feedback, for example:

347-704-5556: Scam / message telling you got $100 reward card!

You can also leave feedback for others and see the feedback others have left on numbers in our free reverse phone lookup app for iPhone