Friday, May 24 2013 10:11 AM EDT2013-05-24 14:11:09 GMT
Two restaurants and a market deli had their reinspections. More >>
Two restaurants and a market deli had their reinspections.More >>
HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) -
Officials with the Better Business Bureau of North Alabama said scam text messages promising gift cards to popular retailers like Wal-Mart and Best Buy are targeting Valley residents.
Michele Mason, North Alabama BBB President and CEO, said the messages often come late at night or during the early hours of the morning. She said the scammers are trying to catch people off-guard, when they are tired and possibly not as aware the text is a scam.
Almost all of the spam messages include a link to follow to claim your prize. Mason said following the link will put you at risk.
"Our concern is that one of two things are going to happen," Mason said. "In some of these cases we're learning that these companies are trying to get you to subscribe to a membership. So, you're going to start getting charged on your credit card or maybe even your phone bill on a monthly basis. Other sites could be setup to download spy ware, unknowingly to you, or even a virus."
Mason added it is important to monitor your bills to make sure unknown charges do not appear after you receive a spam message.
The BBB recommended reporting spam text messages when you receive them. To report a message, forward it to the short code 7726, which spells out "SPAM" on a phone's keypad. Follow the prompts to report the phone number to a database of spammers.
You can also contact your phone company and have the number blocked, but Mason said that does not always work. Spammers use technology to mask the caller ID numbers and change the way their own number appears when they text you. Registering for the Do Not Call Registry will only keep out legitimate companies, because scammers disregard it.
Many of the messages prompt you to reply with the word 'stop' if you do not want to receive any more messages. Mason said you should avoid the urge to reply.
"As much as we want to type the word 'stop' and hope that's going to put an end to them, what we're finding right now is that it just lets them know that they've reached a valid cell phone number," she said. "They're probably going to, if nothing else, resell your number to another telemarketer and say, 'here's someone who's live.'"
If you become a victim of identity or monetary theft after responding to a spam text message, contact your police department to file a report.