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Texts Promising Free Gift Cards? It's a Scam

7:44 PM, Nov 30, 2012   |    comments
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Columbia, SC (WLTX) -- Have you gotten a text message promising a free gift card?  

All you have to do is click on a link?  

Don't.  

Chances are it's a scam designed to get your personal information.   

"If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is," said Juliana Harris with the State of South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs.

Tis' the season for giving and taking.   News 19 viewers alerted the station about a text promising a free Target gift card.

"People are strapped for cash and they want to give their children or their families good Christmases and they'd be a little more apt to jump at the chance of a $1,000 dollar gift card," Harris said.

These scammers are Scrooges using fake numbers and phishing sites to steal personal information.

"These sites will often sometimes resemble something you're familiar with," she said. "It might look like an account log in or something of that nature."

News19 called one of the numbers, using our land line phones, that texted our viewers.  News19 got a recorded message in Spanish that translated to: "[This mailbox] is full and cannot take new messages at the moment. Please try again later. See you later."

"It's a good idea to not respond to these things," Harris said. "A lot of times they're just trying to see if there's a person at the end of that number."

Red flags to watch for:

- Unsolicited calls or texts.

- Long or strange URLs

- Unfamiliar phone numbers

And as always, be careful about giving out personal information.

"A lot of times we're the number one way that our information can get out there because we're a little too willing to share it," she said.

Stay safe this holiday season by making sure scammers don't jingle your cash all the way to the bank.

If you want to report a scam or have been scammed, report the incident to the state's Department of Consumer Affairs.

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