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Here’s a tip that’s worth repeating:

Don’t click on a link in a text message you get on your phone that says you’ve won a terrific prize or a gift card. Don’t reply either. It’s probably a scam.

The Federal Trade Commission settled charges with a group of marketers that were part of a scheme that sent millions of unsolicited spam text messages promoting supposedly free merchandise like $1,000 gift cards for Wal-Mart and Best Buy.

People who clicked the links in the messages didn’t get the promised prizes. Instead, they were taken to websites that asked them to give personal information and sign up for multiple offers, often involving purchases or paid subscriptions.

What can you do about unwanted text messages?

  • Delete unwanted text messages that ask you to enter a special code, or to confirm or provide personal information. Legitimate companies won’t send you a text asking for sensitive information.
  • Don’t click on links in the text message. Links can take you to spoof sites that look real but will steal your personal information.
  • Report spam texts to your carrier. Copy the original message and forward it to 7726 (SPAM) free of charge, if you are an AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, or Sprint subscriber.

387 Comments


It is your choice whether to submit a comment. If you do, you must create a user name, or we will not post your comment. The Federal Trade Commission Act authorizes this information collection for purposes of managing online comments. Comments and user names are part of the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) public records system, and user names also are part of the FTC’s computer user records system. We may routinely use these records as described in the FTC’s Privacy Act system notices. For more information on how the FTC handles information that we collect, please read our privacy policy.

The purpose of this blog and its comments section is to inform readers about Federal Trade Commission activity, and share information to help them avoid, report, and recover from fraud, scams, and bad business practices. Your thoughts, ideas, and concerns are welcome, and we encourage comments. But keep in mind, this is a moderated blog. We review all comments before they are posted, and we won’t post comments that don’t comply with our commenting policy. We expect commenters to treat each other and the blog writers with respect.

  • We won’t post off-topic comments, repeated identical comments, or comments that include sales pitches or promotions.
  • We won’t post comments that include vulgar messages, personal attacks by name, or offensive terms that target specific people or groups.
  • We won’t post threats, defamatory statements, or suggestions or encouragement of illegal activity.
  • We won’t post comments that include personal information, like Social Security numbers, account numbers, home addresses, and email addresses. To file a detailed report about a scam, go to ReportFraud.ftc.gov.

We don't edit comments to remove objectionable content, so please ensure that your comment contains none of the above. The comments posted on this blog become part of the public domain. To protect your privacy and the privacy of other people, please do not include personal information. Opinions in comments that appear in this blog belong to the individuals who expressed them. They do not belong to or represent views of the Federal Trade Commission.

Rita Jorgenson
February 28, 2014
I fell for that Best Buy one once but never again. This message cannot be made known enough, especially with the contact information for reporting scammers.
Numerous "Walm…
July 31, 2014

In reply to by Rita Jorgenson

It's easy to believe that a corporation as huge as Walmart would give prizes via text. TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE, though. IGNORE texts from "Walmart," or from "whoever," because they are phishing.
notmyemail
August 17, 2016

In reply to by Numerous "Walm…

No it's not. They don't need to give away 1,000$ so why would they? I've never heard of a major retailer doing a giveaway. Come on..
JustMe
August 28, 2017

In reply to by notmyemail

What do you mean "No it's not"? What question is this an answer to?
notmyname
December 17, 2018

In reply to by JustMe

“No it’s not”(easy to believe big corporations)
Prieto
October 08, 2020

In reply to by JustMe

It's an awesome piece of writing designed for all the onlinne users; they will obtain benefit from it I am sure. My website -mers inde bug un
Vanessa'Dunston
September 22, 2018

In reply to by Numerous "Walm…

Well there are a lot of spam going around the world it's funny like pc h Wal-Mart kmart scam likely lot more i have anxiety and it's nerve damage what should be done
suziesweetpea
March 01, 2018

In reply to by Rita Jorgenson

I just got a text on one of my the persons on my account text page which says account suspended from an e-mail site of sports cellular pool.com
Just happened.
September 23, 2018

In reply to by Rita Jorgenson

Received text from completely unknown sender/number - "Are you OK" I know there is a possible campaign of friends, high school age, who are texting each other this msg as part of mental health awareness. So it's possible that this is that but- very little trust in the interwebs and people in general- reported to cell carrier. Deleted.
Leaf
December 01, 2018

In reply to by Just happened.

I got this same thing as well. Just yesterday. It started off as ‘hi’ and just continued every 4 hours(this began 3 days ago by the way) and yesterday I got sent ‘are you okay’ ‘you okay’
Kyli-Bob
May 03, 2019

In reply to by Leaf

I, just yesterday, revieced a text with just my first name with a "?". Looked up the area code (can't recall entire thing, but sister with a 3) and it was from either Toronto, Canada, or somewhere in Maine. I was too wary of scams and just deleted. Anyone else had this experience? Send similar to the "Are you ok?" Texts...?
JLSTLDon't use…
May 07, 2019

In reply to by Kyli-Bob

In the last two days I got two separate text messages from local area codes with just my first name and a question mark. I haven’t replied and they never sent a follow-up text. It’s like they want me to say, “yes?” But any normal person would say who they are or literally anything else other than “name?” I tried to look up the phone numbers online but got nothing. Any advice?
Old hippy 420
March 01, 2014
You never get something for nothing. It's your money don't fall for it!
Ruth Casey Don…
March 01, 2014
This is vital. I have recently begun receiving random emails from unknown addresses. I don't open them, but it infuriates me that they arrive. Strangely enough, I didn't receive any of these until I put my number on the "do not call" site. I have to wonder if there is any correlation.
mln5663
January 29, 2016

In reply to by LOL

I also started receiving texts with my full name and address after enrolling on the Do Not Call list. I am guessing there is a correlation... It's not the Do Not Text list, so maybe that's a loophole?
joy4u2c
March 16, 2016

In reply to by mln5663

I also recently registered my number on the do not call list and received a text with my full name and address with a link to a website. Even though it was 4:00 am when they sent it, I was waking enough to think logically and not click on the link. I reported the message and it's content to AT&T via 7726. This is getting ridiculous. You don't answer their phone calls so they send text messages with your personal information? Really?
FTC Staff
March 16, 2016

In reply to by joy4u2c

If you register with the FTC for the legitimate Do Not Call registry, you need to give your email. Within 72 hours after you register the number, you will get an email that confirms your registration. You have to click on a link in the email from the Do Not Call registry to complete the registration. If you don't click on the link in the email, you won't be registered.

The legitimate Do Not Call registry with the FTC does not ask for your name or address. If you found a site that is pretending to be the FTC Do Not Call registry, please report it to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint.

Handcock
October 06, 2018

In reply to by LOL

Yes that’s what I did thinking that it would help get rid of Telemarketers but now get spam from txt messages calling me Ambrey ?? AT&T must be getting money from Telemarketers or they would have already have put a stop to them!!! Just deny any way to get some money AT&T they will give #’s for money I would not put it past them.
wait4memz
March 03, 2014
Thanks for the warning. Here is another scam and identify theft: The Blue Bird Card by Walmart and American Express has their emblem on the card. Is becoming a identify theft problem all over the USA. I agree do not open any email not familiar and watch where we use our prepaid cards. Thanks for the warning. Blue Bird Card with American Express Emblem is giving the original American Express a bad rap, because of identify theft is rapidly increasing.
potatogang
April 16, 2017

In reply to by wait4memz

Bluebird itself is not a scam. It is a partnership between Walmart and Amex. If theres anything to worry about it would be the fact that pretty much all the people they employee to help with your account issues are from a country well known for their scam "artists". Skimming is another one.
SHAYNA16
March 09, 2014
WATCH OUT FOR YOUR CHILDREN. NOT ONLY DID THE THIEF GET ME, HE/SHE GOT MY 14 YEAR OLD DAUGHTER AS WELL!!! PROTECT YOUR CHILD'S INFORMATION. JUST CUZ THEY DON'T HAVE CREDIT YET DOESN'T MEAN THAT SOMEONE WON'T TRY TO STEAL YOUR CHILD'S INFORMATION.
Owl Head
October 08, 2016

In reply to by SHAYNA16

I know! I've been getting a lot of texts from bit.ly with inappropriate messages on it, like "H0p on here so I can flirt with you " (that's an actual one I got) and it's really annoying. I haven't responded, and when I researched bit.ly it told me it was a customer service platform so I'm rather nervous about the whole thing. I keep deleting the messages but they keep popping up. Not sure what to do
FedUp
October 13, 2016

In reply to by Owl Head

Report it, then block them from calling or texting you. Look at your options available in your text message list. On Android, its "More", "Block number". Pretty sure Apple has that function too.

lavendergirl
March 09, 2014
What if I did respond to one of these texts? What should I do?
mmm Shiner Rock
March 16, 2014
Just received this text message. I reported the content and sender's phone number to 7726 (SPAM). Hopefully AT&T takes care of it. What should I do if I called the number? Obviously I didn't give out any info but can they do anything if I only called the number? "Atlfedcu FRAUD ALERT!: Your Bankcard has been temporarily -SUSPENDED-. Please call (973)368-5560"
allanv
March 23, 2014
Text received from Atlantic FCU (973) 432-5926 telling me my VISA had been temporarily suspended and asking me to call (973) 494-7995 immediately.
bug58tam
March 27, 2014
Wow People Make Me Sick
mistyblue
April 04, 2014
I had to pay 110.00 to cancel a loan application is this a SCAM or this what was required?
Think
August 17, 2017

In reply to by mistyblue

Sounds like a scam. It's free to apply for a loan so why does it cost money to cancel it. Think about it.
Anonymous123
December 02, 2014
I received a text from a random number which had a link to YouTube, and at the bottom it said "James..." I figured it could've been the person got the wrong phone number but I still clicked on the link (like a dummy). Does that mean I have a virus?
Inevitable79
February 24, 2019

In reply to by Anonymous123

I received a text from 1-440-508-4389 telling me to delete my pictures from YouTube. I clicked on the link not thinking about it and it took me to YouTube or what looked like someone’s YouTube profile but they had no content and the name on the account wasn’t the same as the person who the phone number belongs to because I did a reverse search.
Dix
October 08, 2020

In reply to by Inevitable79

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Kate
December 03, 2014
i received a text, today, Dec 3rd at 3:52pm stating that I may receive refunds from AT&T for paying for charges from other companies on my bill. It then provides a link to you, www.ftc.gov/att for information. Is this legit?
rmendez
December 08, 2014

In reply to by Kate

As part of a lawsuit filed by the FTC against AT&T, AT&T will refund consumers who were billed by third parties without autorization. AT&T is sending out text messages to customers who had premium text message charges added to their bills sometime after January 2009. If you didn't authorize any premium text message services, then you will want to file a claim at ftc.gov/att.

Handcock
October 06, 2018

In reply to by Kate

Can make Links look like it go’s to anywhere they want it to go BUT IT GOES TO A HIDDEN LINK THAT IS MASKED
Curious
January 11, 2015
Can someone please help? I keep getting texts that are from emails. I was dumb enough to click the link, and it led me to this website to get money fast. I didnt enter any information, I just visited the site. This was a couple weeks ago, and my device has worked fine. Am I okay?
HATE SPAM
March 03, 2015
just got a text from (209)227-4533 with a link Mstr.mobi/25chips/0rBT6 Reported it to my Verizon 7726
Puzzeled
March 12, 2015
Hi,got a text from "offers@sprint.com" telling me I have won a fifty dollar gift card for taco bell. And a link to redeem. I assume this is some kind of scam,but using Sprints name? And normally messages from sprint don't come from a seven digit phone number. No area code,so must be a local number. Usually,messages are from a five digit number.
FTC Staff
March 13, 2015

In reply to by Puzzeled

You're right; it's probably a scam. Don’t click on a link in a text message you get on your phone that says you’ve won a prize or a gift card. Don’t reply either.

ncKS
October 26, 2016

In reply to by FTC Staff

What if you DID click because you thought it was a friend who you know got a new phone number? I received one with him suggesting I use Ever to store photos. I DID click on link and took me to app store. Just want can they access from there? I did not enter any password or anything. So, how would you know if anything was affected?
808aloha,oe
March 14, 2019

In reply to by FTC Staff

How about this posing as for instance, Android security up date or any apps that ask. If I recall but not to sure, was informed already by Android with the setting to a yes or no permission to add up dates to apps. as they arrive. To make it aware that answers my question. Lery of this popping up now and then on screen.
sogtdi
May 16, 2015
I got a text message about some Nike gift card on my phone and saying that I should check out this cool app called appleshock(Can't remember the name) but what really scares me is that the message had the name of a family member saying "--Name" at the end. But it showed the the message was sent from my sister's phone, which wasn't working at the time. I am confuse.
ohdang123
May 20, 2015
today I received a text from the number unfamiliar to me but with my local area code. when I check the text message it immediately started downloading the attachment it came with. I was checking the message to see if anything was suspicious I should've noticed immediately being that it was an unrecognized number but, I continued to download to see if it wasn't a picture from someone I know. once the download was complete the message deleted itself and I've yet to find out what was downloaded even after looking through my downloads which were empty and still empty after the fact.I'm afraid I may have just fallen victim to a phishing scam of some sort. if anyone has had the same problem please advise on what you did.
FTC Staff
May 20, 2015

In reply to by ohdang123

If you get another message like this, don’t click on the links in the text message. Links can take you to spoof sites that look real but will steal your personal information.

You can report spam texts to your carrier. Copy the original message and forward it to 7726 (SPAM) free of charge, if you are an AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, or Sprint subscriber.