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AG Kilmartin Warns of Latest Text Message "Smishing" Scam Offering Free Gift Cards

With the Consumer Protection Unit receiving multiple complaints in the past two days, Attorney General Kilmartin is warning consumers of the latest scam to hit the area: consumers have reported receiving text messages offering free Walmart, Target and other consumer store gift cards. The link in the text message leads to a website asking for consumers' information, such as social security numbers, bank account numbers and birth dates.

"With the increase in the use of smartphones, where you can link to the web straight from a text message, we are seeing more and more scams targeted towards unsuspecting consumers," said Attorney General Kilmartin. "Just as people know better than to open an email from a suspicious source, they need to employ the same vigilance with their smartphones."

The text in this scam reads, "Dear Walmart/Target shopper, Congratulations you have just won a $1000 Gift Card. Click here to claim your gift. (cancel: STOP)."

Consumers reported that they are being asked to provide credit card information to cover the cost of shipping and handling. Consumers who give this sensitive information may find themselves fulfilling "sponsor offers" like free trial offers with monthly fees or increased solicitations and junk mail.

If you receive "smishing" scams, Attorney General Kilmartin advises that you:

Do not reply. Replying to a spam text only verifies that your number is active, which will result in more texts.

Do not click any links. If a text is not solicited by you, do not click any links that are contained in the text.

Keep your information private. Never give out any sensitive information such as social security numbers or bank account numbers.

Report smishing texts. Contact the Consumer Protection Unit at 401-274-4400 or contactus@riag.ri.gov to report any scams you receive and forward any smishing texts to your cell phone provider.

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