Spam Text Hot on FTC Radar

As recently reported, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has previously taken steps to protect consumers from text message solicitations otherwise known as “text spam.”  Earlier this month, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) stepped in to file charges against 29 defendants (comprised of text spam operators, “spammers,” and associated website operators involved in the scam) in various jurisdictions around the United States.  The targeted defendants allegedly sent 180 million unwanted text messages to unsuspecting consumers.  According to Charles A. Harwood, acting director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, “The FTC is committed to rooting out this deception and stopping it…”

The Scam

This particular scam is in the form of a text spam.  It promises the consumer free gifts cards and prizes, such as a $1000 gift card to Walmart, Target or Best Buy. It has been referred to as the “Text Scam Best Buy,” “Target Scam” or “Free Walmart Gift Card.”

How it Works

1.     The text scam entices consumers with a text spam message instructing them to follow the link provided for redemption of a free gift card or prize.

2.     When the link is followed, it leads to particular websites at which personal information is requested e.g.,  address, phone number, birthdate, social security number. This information is sometimes requested under the pretense of “shipping” information for the free gift card or prize.

3.     Consumers are further directed to different websites where, in order to receive the gift card or prize, they are required to sign up for other offers that require credit card information or applications for credit cards.

4.     Finally, after the consumer has completed the exhaustive process, they are informed that in order to receive the gift card or prize, they must find three other individuals to complete this same process.

The Threat

Once the spammers have obtained the personal information, it is sold to third parties for marketing purposes. The spammers are also paid by the operators of the associated websites according to the number of consumers that enter personal information, subscribe or apply.  This deception is a form of text fraud and a threat to the consumer. Not only is personal information sold to third parties, but additional injury may result as follows

• Personal information may fall into the hands of identify thieves

• Credit card applications required as part of the scam may negatively impact credit

• Malware may be installed on the phone

• Unwanted charges may be billed to the phone account

• Phone performance is slowed and memory space is occupied

Text Spam Violation

The FTC has determined that the defendants have violated specific FTC regulations by failing to fully disclose all terms and conditions associated with obtaining the gift card or prize.  As such, this practice involving text spam constitutes a “deceptive” and “unfair practice” under applicable FTC regulations.

What You Can Do

Any consumer wanting to block unsolicited spam texts should not reply to them, as a reply verifies that the number is valid and malware could be downloaded.

If you or someone you know has received an unwanted spam text message, contact a Spam Text Lawyer at Audet and Partners, LLP for a free consultation to learn more about your rights. You can request a free consultation by completing and submitting the confidential form to the right of this page or at our spam text website at http://audetlaw.com/spam_text/, or call us toll-free at (800) 965-1461.

Join a class action. Call us: 800.965.1461