Hey Scambook readers! We’ve had a phenomenal response to our blog from last Friday on the fiasco about the Walmart gift card scam. We can’t believe the number of complaints that have been submitted over the past few days. Almost 2000 complaints, and the number keeps rising by the hour.
We did a little research on how these scams work here at Scambook. Thanks to Walmart’s website we are able to relay this information back to our users for the inside scoop on how this scam works, what Walmart practices, and how to protect yourself.
Just to refresh our memory let’s take a minute to go over what “smishing” is:
Smishing is the latest scam. Instead of getting an e-mail, you get a text message. The word is a combination of “SMS,” for short message service, also known as text messaging, and “phishing.” In the text message you’re instructed to call a toll-free number, which is answered by a bogus interactive voice-response system that tries to fool you into providing your account number and password. Whatever you do, do not do this! (The image above was sent to us from one of our users, and this is exactly what the smishing message looks like).
Here’s the 411 about how these scams work:
1. Consumers either receive a spam e-mail or come across a web advertisement or web site offering a Walmart or other well known gift card worth a large amount of money.
3. Once this information is entered the consumers may be asked to take part in a series of surveys.
4. Once the surveys are complete (if they were offered at all), the consumer is given a number of webpages where they have to “participate” in a certain amount of “sponsor offers.” The number of offers may vary, but they will end up costing the consumer a great deal of money in fees, subscriptions, and products. In addition, at the end of the process there is no guarantee that the consumer will even receive the branded gift card. This alone should be enough to not complete any of the sponsor surveys, but again this information is only stated in the fine print, that most people always skip or never bother to read.
Many of our users have said they completed the survey and never received anything. All they received was a bunch unsolicited telemarketing phone calls.
A few things you should know about what Walmart does not do.
- Walmart does not solicit online for individuals to complete online surveys for gift cards, nor do we send unsolicited emails asking individuals to participate in our surveys.
- Walmart does not endorse and is not affiliated with any “sponsor offer” related program or survey;
- Walmart will never send you e-mails or surveys that are contingent on your making purchases, subscriptions, or fulfilling other financial requirements;
- Drawings for the receipt survey occur four times a year. Winners of the register receipt gift card are notified by certified mail, never via email.
A few tips on how to protect yourself against these scams:
- Don’t open or respond to unsolicited e-mails offering free gift cards; (we know it’s very tempting to open the e-mail but trust us, you’re better off just deleting the e-mail or text message).
- Don’t click on or respond to online ads or websites offering free gift cards; (you know which ones we’re referring to, the ones that pop out of no where and say “You’ve won”).
- Avoid filling out forms in email messages that ask for personal financial information. You should only communicate information such as credit card numbers or account information via a secure website or the telephone.
- Always ensure that you’re using a secure website when submitting credit card or other sensitive information via your Web browser. Phishers are now able to ‘spoof’, or forge Both the “https://” that you would normally see when you’re on a secure Web server and a legitimate-looking address. You may even see both in the link of a scam email. Again, make it a habit to enter the address of any banking, shopping, auction, to financial transaction website yourself and not depend on the displayed links.
- Pay attention to the website URL. If the URL does not match the branding to a legitimate website navigate away from the website. Always check where the URL ID is coming from. Remember not all scam sites will try to show the “https://” and/or the security lock. Get in the habit of looking at the address line, too. Be aware of where you are going.
Always report “phishing” or “spoofed” emails and “smishing” messages to the following groups:
- Submit a complaint at Scambook
- Forward the email to email@example.com
- Forward the email to the Federal Trade Commission at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Forward the email to the “abuse” email address at the company that is being spoofed (e.g. “email@example.com”)
- When forwarding spoofed messages, always include the entire original email with its original header information intact
- Notify The Internet Crime Complaint Center of the FBI by filing a complaint in their website: www.ic3.gov/
Walmart is asking their customers to notify them directly as well about this scam…
If you suspect you have been directed to a phony website claiming to be connected with Walmart, please send an e-mail with the link to firstname.lastname@example.org. The e-mail abuse team will then work with authorities to put an end to the particular scam.
If you suspect you have received a fraudulent e-mail claiming to be from Walmart, please forward the e-mail directly to Walmart at email@example.com. For investigatory purposes, please do not cut and paste the e-mail, change the subject line or send it as an attachment.
Remember, no reputable business would send you an email requesting your personal information. Any emails you may receive asking for this type of information should be considered phony and brought to the attention of the business being phished or smished.