"Your entry last month has WON! Go to www.****.com to claim your FREE $1,000 Target gift card within 24 hrs.”
That’s a text I got last week. If you haven’t received one of these annoying texts, you know someone who has. Ask around.
It may say Target or Best Buy. It could say Wal-Mart. But those stores have nothing to do with it.
Rarely do I hear from SO many people who want to believe so badly that something is real.
I’ve aired stories on it. I’ve personally written back dozens of people. Yet everyday, I get calls, posts and emails that go much like this:
Consumer: Did I win?
Joe: Did you enter?
Consumer: Enter what?
Joe: Then how could you win?
No! It’s not real! It’s a scam!
You answer the text, it leads to another site, and scammers get information they can later abuse.
Don’t get me wrong. I ask people to send me their scams. But they just keep coming. Which leads me to believe some people ARE replying and scammers ARE getting what they want.
It’s clear, exposing the scam — repeatedly — isn’t enough.
The real solution? Keeping these texts off your phone in the first place.
So, I asked my friends at Scambook.com what we all want to know: How do scammers get my number?
They came up with three ways: Scammers use special software that crawls websites like Facebook and Craiglist looking for phone numbers you post. Don’t post phone numbers.
Scammers use random number generators to send out messages to both activated and unactivated numbers. If you reply, the software knows the number works, and you get more.
Scammers use computer viruses and hacking techniques to gather phone numbers from your own computer or private email account.
Not much you can do about that one.
And I took it to the businesses we pay every month for the instrument that brings us these bogus texts.
So AT&T, Sprint and Verizon, how do we keep these annoying text messages off my phone?
Well, they offer help — sort of.
Verizon has something called “Block that Spam.” It’s free. You enter the annoying phone number and it’s gone. You can also block texts from email or web addresses.
But, it lasts 90 days and then you have to re-enter the number. And since the same scammers use different numbers each time, you’ll be blocking a lot of numbers.
AT&T asks you to forward the spam message to short code 7726 (SPAM). They will then investigate, though it doesn’t say that will automatically block the text message number.
Both companies agree you don’t respond to the texts or you will likely get many more.
My advice? One word: Delete!
This week’s scam stopper: Never deposit a check you receive from someone you don’t know. It could end up closing your bank account.
• ABC15 Investigator Joe Ducey is Arizona’s consumer alert expert. Watch his reports weekdays on ABC15 at 5 p.m. and 10 p.m., and email him with questions or news tips anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org.