iPhone Screenshot of a Spam Text Message for Free $1000 Target Gift Cards

iPhone Screenshot of a Spam Text Message for Free $1000 Target Gift Cards

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TargetContests.com: Watch Out For New Text Message Gift Card Scam

UPDATE: Target has officially confirmed that they aren’t affiliated with this $1000 gift card text scam, or any other online Gift Redemption Program. Read their statement and find out what to do if you get this text message in our follow-up post.

 

Walmart $1000 Gift Card, BestBuyWin.net, BestBuyContests.com and now TargetContests.com! The weather might be getting colder, but text message scammers are heating up. Have you received a text message that says, “Your entry last month WON! Go to TargetContests.com enter winning code 3847 to claim your FREE $1000.00 Target gift card within 24hrs.”?

If so, you’re not alone. We received our first complaint about this bogus gift card text message on November 8, but this text spam (aka smishing) scheme has exploded on Scambook within the past two days. We anticipate that the numbers will continue to grow exponentially.

 

Click here to see the Target Contests group page on Scambook.

 

This is still breaking news, but I compared our TargetContests.com data to the statistics we’ve been collecting about Best Buy gift card smishing (BestBuyWin.net, BestBuyContests.com, etc). The earliest numbers for the Best Buy scheme were very close to what we’re seeing for TargetContests.com.

User reports about TargetContests.com are coming in from all over the US, but the attack seems to be concentrated on the coasts. (Source: Scambook.com)

That means over 100,000 cell phone users could be, ahem, targeted by this phony text within the next three months.

So far, Scambook members have reported 149 complaints about TargetContests.com. But more than 100 of those complaints arrived overnight between November 12 and 13. We’ve rarely seen a single complaint subject get so much activity in such a short time period.

As with the other smishing cases, Target isn’t affiliated with this scheme. We’re reaching out to Target for a comment and we’ll update this post as soon as we get an official statement.

 

New Twist, Same Scheme

It’s a new twist on the same mobile fraud we’ve been tracking from the very beginning of the Scambook Blog. Spammers select thousands of cell phone numbers, usually via randomizing computer software, then blast a text message promoting the bogus $1000 gift card prize.

They use stores where most people shop, like Target and Walmart, then create websites that mimic the real company’s brand. TargetContests.com looks like this:

TargetContests.com uses Target’s real brand logo as well as their iconic red and white color scheme, but don’t be fooled. They’re not actually affiliated with Target. (Source: Targetcontests.com)

At first glance, it’s pretty convincing. And who wouldn’t love to win a $1000 Target gift card, especially so close to Christmas? Unfortunately, just like the Walmart Gift Card Scam and BestBuyWin.net, this gift card prize isn’t real. Target has nothing to do with this.

 

The Truth Behind the Text

It’s a cross-promotional marketing scheme known as a Gift Redemption Program. TargetContests.com redirects to DailyGiftCard.com, which seems to be affiliated with DailyDealFinder.com and looks eerily similar to RewardHubZone.com, the real website behind BestBuyWin.net.

You’d have to complete over a dozen product trial offers — and get 3 friends to do the same — before you even get a glimpse of your gift card. In the meantime, TargetContests.com will give your personal information to all sorts of affiliate companies and marketers. It’s stated clearly in their Privacy Policy, but it’s easy to overlook that tiny link.

Read the fine print: “We will share any and all personal information you submit to our Company with third parties who may have products or services you will find of interest. We will share your information without your additional consent.” (Source: TargetContests.com)


In all my research on this subject, I’ve never come across anyone who has completed one of these Gift Redemption Programs and actually received a $1000 gift card, or any prize. Have you? After thousands of reports from users who have received these gift card smishing texts, we’d love to hear from someone who actually got one. Personally, I think these text message winners are like unicorns or Santa Claus. Prove me wrong in the comments.

If you receive a text for a free $1000 gift card prize at TargetContests.com, ignore it and contact your service provider to report the sender. Your cell phone company may also be able to block unknown numbers for texting you and charging your account.

 

Did you get this text? Click here to submit a complaint on Scambook.

 

UPDATE: Target’s Response

We reached out to a Target representative, who confirmed that Target isn’t sending you these text messages. They’re not affiliated with TargetContests.com or any other website affiliated with a smishing text. In fact, they’re just as ticked off as you are. Target is working hard to get fake “Target” websites, like TargetContests.com, permanently removed and blocked.

The official word from Target:

 

Recently, there have been reports of automated text message scams that prompt unsuspecting phone users to click on a link to “win a $1,000 gift card,” among other offers.

Target takes the security of its guests and consumers seriously and works to disable and block fake “Target” websites and links as soon as they’re discovered.

If you receive such a message [as TargetContests.com] it is most likely a scam. Indicators that the offer is suspicious include sloppy language, typos and an informal style, such as multiple exclamation marks.

 

Target is advising users to ignore the text message. If you’re unsure about a promotional offer, Target urges consumers to contact them directly by visiting www.target.com/contactus

For more information, read our follow-up post.

 

See Also

Free $1000 Walmart Gift Card Text Message Scam
FTC Busts Scammer for Fake Free iPhone, iPad Spam Text Messages
FTC To Free Gift Card Text Message Spammers: “Game Over”

Image sources

Scambook
Web

Got a complaint? Report it to Scambook!

Author:

Miranda Perry is the staff writer for Scambook.com, where she blogs about consumer issues, fraud and cyber security. She hopes to inspire readers to think critically about the world around them and take action to improve their lives.

Comments

  1. N Queen

    I just received another text message. This is the third one in the last two days. First was the WatMart gift card message, then one for Actors wanted, and now this one from TargetContest. I am tired of these texts and I want them to stop now. I hope someone can catch up with who ever is doing this and STOP them once and for all.
    Thank you

    Reply
    1. Tony

      i know its driving me crazy !! Mine are comeing in around 3-6 AM !!! I own business soI can’t shut my phone off so it will continue until i answer it…… Ill get five messages in just one hour from these idiots….. i just today called my provider and blocked the number
      Good luck
      Tony

      Reply
    2. Amanda

      Pittsburgh- 2 in 3 days, I got the first one right after I checked out at Target…I don’t know if it was just coincidental or what

      Reply
  2. tina8525

    Got a text just like the one described except my code was different. Besides the fact that winning $1000 is extremely unlikely, the tip-off for me was that I never entered any contest at Target. I don’t even have a Target near me and have not shopped at one in probably over a year. I’m glad I came to this site before I responded, out of curiosity, to this text.

    Reply
  3. Joalene

    I just recieved a text also saying I won $1000.00 at Target. When I typed in Targetcontests.com I read about the scam…THANK YOU!

    Reply
  4. Kallie

    your entry last month has won! go to targetcontests.com and enter your winning code 6354 to claim your free $1,000 target gift card within 24 hrs. this really stinks because if was true i would played santa to a few kids this year!!! H ow dare they hurt somebody around holidays!!! It makes me sick!!! i hope they don’t do it to somebody who does not read before they do the scam!!! thank you letting know this was a tashy text!!!!

    Reply
  5. Kathie

    I received the TargetContests.com text 12:56 am this morning. I too was suspicious because I never entered a contest at Target. THANKS Scambook for your help. Hopefully this can be STOPPED now!!!

    Reply
  6. Karen

    I just received this text in va.I also was tipped off by the fact that i don`t enter contests and out of curiosity found your article.Thank you for the info.

    Reply
  7. Clara

    I just got this text, same code and everything at 1:25am in GA. Sad to say I was excited and naively thinking “Wow, lucky me! I don’t remember entering a Target contest…but who cares I won!” Then I did a quick search on target contest scam—> Thanks for the heads up.

    Reply
  8. Scott

    The text message came in at 2:35 AM today. Same as above.

    My service provider has an option with my account to block premium messages, so If I fell for the scam it should still be blocked.

    Reply
  9. Reese

    Got the text this morning 11/17 and I’m glad that I looked it up first. Thanks for posting this so we all are aware! Really appreciate it!

    Reply
  10. Mj

    Your entry last month has WON! Go to TargetContests.com and enter your winning code 3748 to claim your FREE $1000 Target Gift card within 24hrs!
    Phone: 951-536-0869
    NYC

    Reply
  11. Robert

    My wife received it last night in Utah. We didn’t enter a contest and don’t give out our cell phone numbers. If it is too good to be true… I checked online for more information and found this site. Glad I stopped her from responding before we opened Pandora’s Box!

    Reply
  12. Hannah

    I received one of these with the code listed as 6354 in Mountain View California… I’m glad you made this website as it is the first thing that shows up when you google TargetContests.com… I hope these people get caught soon thank you for this resource it really saved me.

    Reply
  13. DanielGadget

    I have a NorCal cell number but am in Illinois and got this Text on 11/16/12 @ 11:41 CST.
    Used Google to search TargetContests.Com and the first three hits were leads to ScamBook.

    Reply
  14. A Banks

    Thanks goodness I went to Google and found this site before I went to the website in the text. It didn’t seem right to just win $1000. Thanks for this article. I just got the text in Pittsburgh, PA.

    Reply
  15. Annabel

    Jut received this. Did the research and found it completely bogus. Sent out a dire warning to whomever sent this that this has been reported and they are being watched. This will end for them soon.

    Reply
  16. Ivy

    I just got the text in Ohio and I accidently gave them my address and confirmed my number. and didn’t type in the code thing because they didn’t send me it. then I googled about this scam. And now I’m really scared if i’m going to get charged, etc.

    Reply
    1. Miranda Post author

      Hi Ivy, thanks for your comment. I suggest you contact your cell phone provider as soon as possible to let them know what’s happened. They may be able to put a hold on your account in case the company attempts to charge you and possibly block unknown numbers from texting you in the future. I hope everything works out for you!

      Reply
  17. Amanda

    I, too, have recieved this text, regarding a $1000 gift card to Target and in response to their waste of my time I am not only going to boycott Target I am also spreading the word on FB, Tweeter, youtube, etc, etc. for everyone to assist in this boycott, untill we are all paid our gift card and/or they stop sending these texts. I am also taking other measures that I am not going to post, because of the legal aspect. Thank you, for the opportunity to post. :)

    Reply
    1. Miranda Post author

      Hi Amanda, thanks for your comment. Just to be clear, Target isn’t responsible for this. The people who are texting you are affiliated with DailyGiftCard.com, a website that uses the brand names of trustworthy companies like Target to lure consumers into participating in online surveys and special offers. They do not have any official relationship with Target.

      It’s easy to miss, but if you read the fine print on TargetContests.com, it states that “This Gift Redemption Program is an independent rewards program for consumers and is not affiliated with, sponsored by or endorsed by any of the listed products or retailers.”

      We’re reaching out to Target and we’ll update the Scambook Blog with an official statement soon.

      Reply
  18. Kristen

    I have received target contest text through my phone. Thought it was real and they asked for the choice between dr.seuss book subscription or best buy gift card. How did they got my phone numbers?

    Reply
    1. Miranda Post author

      Hi Kristen, thanks for your comment. Generally, the people behind these smishing schemes use computer software to select phone numbers at random, or they acquire phone numbers from dishonest companies you may have done business with in the past. If you’re concerned, contact your cell phone provider and let them know what’s happened. They may be able to block unknown numbers from texting you.

      Reply
  19. ErykBly

    Just received one – at 6:13 AM Sunday morning! (They should at least have the decency to try to scam me at a more reasonable time!)

    Reply
  20. Amy B

    I just received a message on my phone as well. Since I’m subscribed to Target coupons via text, I thought it might be real. BUT- I am glad I did my research first. Can’t these scammers get a life?! GAH.

    Reply
    1. Miranda Post author

      Hi Becca, we’re seeing a few different codes based on what our members are reporting. To see some examples, you can visit the Scambook TargetContests.com complaints page here. However, as part of my research for this blog article, I visited TargetContests.com in a secure web browser and entered several random codes, like 1234 and 0000. They were all “approved” because the code is simply another trick to make consumers believe they’ve won a real contest. Thanks for your comment.

      Reply
  21. Mandy

    I got the text in Texas. I enter the surveys all the time, and had just done a target one last month, so I actually was going to look into if I had really FINALLY won. Luckily, my security on my computer told me it was a bad webpage, so I googled if it was a scam. It was. THanks for having this webpage!!

    Reply
  22. Marvin

    Just recieved the targetcontest.com at midnite last night here in Salem, Massachusetts! Also glad I checked here first but was skeptical not only because of the ‘too good to be true’ scenario but that I never entered a contest.

    Reply
    1. Miranda Post author

      Hi Isabella, the best thing to do if you receive a TargetContests.com text message is simply ignore it. Although this text message scam is being sent out in record numbers, it can’t really hurt you unless you participate. Do not reply back and do not go to TargetContests.com or any other website mentioned in the text. If you have extra concerns, I suggest contacting your cell phone provider about this. Thanks for your comment!

      Reply
    1. Peterd

      Just received this from 951-992-2043. 4:00pm on Thanksgiving. Thanks scambook for altering about the scam. How do I report this to Verizon.

      Reply
      1. Miranda Post author

        Hi Peterd, to report this text message to Verizon, use the forwarding option on your mobile phone and forward the text to shortcode 7726. You will receive an automated reply from Verizon that asks for the original sender’s number and then Verizon’s anti-fraud team can investigate. For instructions about blocking text messages via Verizon Safeguard, please see our Target Contests Update. Thanks for your comment.

        Reply
  23. Christina

    I just got that target scam text. I don’t even have a smart phone. I’d like to know how they got my number. Thanks for having this article; it possibly saved me some trouble.

    Reply
  24. Michael

    Text was recieved November 18th at 11:43 pm EST.

    Thanks scambook for being one step ahead of a lot of these distractions.

    Reply
  25. Bob

    Still happening. I just got the smish beat out of my phone with the Target offer. Wonder how they got my cell phone number? I never give it out (probably “seldom”) since I rarely use it. I figured it was some kind of scam so I researched and got to your site. Thanks for taking the time to do this for all the rest of us. We DO appreciate your time.

    Reply
  26. Elizabeth

    I just got the text this morning. It looked a little scam-like even though I sometimes do the real contests that come printed on receipts at stores like this. Glad I looked it up!

    Reply
  27. Yodesa

    Worded verbatum, I received TargetContests.com text this morning before 7am! I’m no fool and research EVERYTHING beforehand. Knew this was a scam though, and wasn’t surprised when complaints were shown after entering website to research.

    Reply
  28. Mike

    live in pittsburgh, PA – i just got the text for this:
    Your entry last month has WON! Go to targetcontests.com and enter your winning code 6354 to claim your FREE $10000 Target gift card within 24hrs.

    Reply
  29. 2fast4u2

    Got one of these to my company cell phone figured it was a scam Googled the site and arrived here. Going to block sender.
    Thanks

    Reply
  30. marquez

    i received a tx from target i dont care about the money i know its 2 good to b thue, but thankyou for weakkingme at 6;30 in the mornig i madeit for my really importand appt.

    Reply
  31. Emmy

    My mother just got one about 10 mins ago. In Michigan. Lucky I googled for info on it :) WARNING TO THE PEOPLE THAT DID GO ON THE SCAM SITE: Going to this TargetContests site may mean you have a keylogger now. They can access different account infos such as FaceBook and bank info if you do any banking online or have ordered things online with a credit card. If you have gone to the site, please scan your computer with a virus software.

    Reply
  32. RK

    SMS text received at 3:41AM PST on 11/20/2012: Please claim your Reward. Your personal code is S984 bbtexts.net

    The domain bbtexts.net is (purportedly) owned by “Cliff Burton” (from WHOIS lookup). Email address for Cliff Burton is listed as [PERSONAL INFORMATION REMOVED].

    Reply
  33. Rube Gomer

    Michigan here, both my wife and I received the same text as aour phone numbers are one digit apart. Your entry last month has WON! Go to targetcontests.com and enter your winning code 93849 to claim your FREE $10000 Target gift card within 24hrs.

    I knew it was a scam, and so did she, as I don’t shop at Target and I never enter any of those so-called “survey” contests for a chance to win a gift card that you get with store receipts. Waste of time.

    Reply
  34. Kathy

    Just received the text about you have won a $1000 gift card from Target. Thought it was a scam but checked. Thank you, I will also let my friends know!

    Reply
  35. Alicia

    My dad just got this message on his cell phone but since he doesnt like computers or the internet he asked me to look for him. Sure enouph it was a scam, thanks everyone for letting me find out so quickly without searching forever. People are rediculous and I hope these idiots get caught.

    Reply
  36. Jody

    Got the best buy text here in Spokane, WA. I go through Verizon and there is an app for this exact thing. I don’t know how well it works but I’ll give it a shot.

    Reply
  37. Pegzz

    I just received the “you won $1000 Target gift card” text on my phone today in Northville, Michigan. Mine came in on a 619 985-5943 number.. Cali or Canada area code?? Anyway.. Happy I checked scams out first. Whoever is doing this is wasting a lot of satellite time. Ugh!!

    Reply
  38. Bob

    My s/o received this targetcontest.com scam message 11/20. She never shops Target, Wal-mart or any of those big box slave shops.

    Reply
  39. Dawn

    Just received Target $1000 gift card scam today via text on my phone. I knew it was probably bogus. Thanks for confirming! Happy Thanksgiving all!

    Reply
  40. Samantha

    Got this today after actually entering a Target gift card contest on Facebook last month. Luckily I remembered the actual contest was for a $100 card, not a $1000 one. And was suspicious that I hadn’t received a notice via Facebook. Thanks for the reporting here to help confirm my suspicions!

    Reply
  41. 520Guy

    Just received my scam text at 5:40 AM today. I knew it was a scam right away because I never shop at Target. I hope they catch these bastards who like to waste other peoples time.

    Reply
  42. Emma

    Yep my mom just got the target one and asked me to check it. Im so glad that when i googled it i saw this website! Thanks for the info everyone.

    Reply
  43. Bobby

    I got this text around 1:00 p.m. I got really excited thinking it was real. I am only 13 and I got this text. I thought I could give it to my mom for holiday shopping. It is just sad that they would do something like this. Thank you for confirming it is a scam

    Reply
  44. Amanda

    I received the TargetContest.com $1,000 gift card text this morning. I knew right away it was a scam, but I want these people to stop.

    Reply
  45. shawna

    I just got the target one today, on Thanksgiving of all days, and my husband has already received the best buy one several times (central alabama). These people should be ashamed of themselves for getting people’s hopes up right here at the holiday! I have 4 children and we struggle to keep up with everything as it is since my husband’s work has been so slow, and then to receive messages like this to only find out they are fake is so incredibly cruel! I hope the creators of this scam rot!

    Reply
  46. Elizabeth

    We also got the text today on Thanksgiving in Arkansas. My husband asked me if I entered a contest. I had not, and he didn’t either, so we knew it was fake. There needs to be a “Do Not Text” option. We have signed up for the Do not Call and Do not mail. I think with this day and age, texting should be reported also.

    Reply
  47. Stephanie

    Just got one in Tampa, FL. On Thanksgiving day, no less!
    Phone number: 951-992-9187

    I knew it was a scam when I got it since I’ve been getting random scam-texts lately, but I googled it just out of curiosity. Thanks for all the information!

    Reply
  48. ChrisM

    Happy Thanksgiving!! I got my text at 5:55AM. Good thing I was up already. Thanks for the info on the scam. I won’t waste my time checking out the website.

    Reply
  49. Farrell

    I want to know why the feds don’t do something about this! These type of scams are in direct violation of FCC regulations. Tracking down the perpetrators is SUPER SIMPLE. Fine them, freeze their assets, whatever it takes — shut them down.

    I’m sure the FCC has some lame excuse of how “hard” it is. Just like the feds have a million excuses why they don’t shut down other Internet crimes. Excuses that show they don’t know how to hire good technical people who can find ciber scumbags in a matter of minutes or hours at most.

    I think it is time for us to exercise some vigilante justice. We can shut them down. All of you smart people out there, quit screwing around with legit services like Amazon, Google, MSN, etc. Let’s go get the scumbags!

    Reply
    1. The Bee

      Vigilante justice? Really? Over something as stupid as a fake text message? Report it to your local TV News station…they’re more apt to do something about it!

      Reply
  50. Karie

    just got this text, Phoenix AZ, Nov 23, 12:14 am

    from: 951-902-9443 code I was given was 74893. Obviously I know this is a scam…did not send any info or reply. the number just rings.

    Reply
  51. Christopher

    Thanks for the info in this article Miranda; all the research on this topic in one place! I too was an unlucky recipient of this particular smishing scam last night, and it’s interesting to see how widespread this one seems to be.
    Towards the end of your article, you mused upon successful Gift Redemption Program stories. Well, actually, I have one. Now this was a good while ago, back when Free iPods were king, and maybe success there was more widespread, but I simply completed the requisite ~8 offers (signing up and canceling). After about a month of waiting and ~$60 bucks total, they sent me a check in the mail for ~$350. Again, not sure if it’s just the giftcard scams that never succeed, but that one surely did for me!
    Anyways, thanks again for a great article.

    Reply
    1. Miranda Post author

      Hi Christopher, thanks for sharing your story! I’m glad that other Gift Redemption Program worked out for you. You might be right, perhaps these programs were more legitimate in their early days. The rise in texting and smartphone/mobile internet technology most likely opened up dozens of new avenues for these shady businesses to exploit people. Besides, even if you could receive a Target gift card by jumping through all their hoops, it’s unethical to get someone’s hopes up by telling them they’ve won a “FREE” $1000 prize, especially when it’s so close to the holidays and so many families are struggling due to the economy.

      Reply
      1. Beth

        I received a text at 1AM. Targetcontest.com
        909-762-4729
        Pan Handle of FL……also verizon customer……
        Hope I don’t get any more……need my sleep!

        Reply
  52. Norie

    I just received a Target test on the win 1000.00 card contest in south east FL. Glad to see this site helping us know it is a scam… I found it hard to believe because I don’t shop at Target so I knew I never entered a contest.

    Reply
  53. amanda

    i just got this text with code 53622 on thanksgiving day this is so wrong especially when you have 2 kids and your trying your best for them to have gifts and still pay the bills and get food. what a major disappointment. kentucky here.

    Reply
  54. Amy

    I received the Free $1000 gift card txt Nov. 23 @ 6:45 am in Iowa. Txt came from #9098379884 and my winning code #74893. Don’t people have anything better to do then to scam others!? Geez!

    Reply
  55. The Bee

    I received this scam this morning in Lebanon County, PA. I really had hope it was real because #1 I shop at Target using their REDcard and thought maybe it automatically entered me into a contest. #2 How would they (whoever “they” are) get my number?

    I followed your advice and forwarded the text to Verizon 7726 and followed their instructions. I’m sure whoever does this kind of thing uses several different phone numbers and probably throw away phones.

    Merry Christmas!, right?

    Well, Merry Christmas, really…Be Blessed!

    Reply
    1. Miranda Post author

      Hi Bee, the individuals behind this scam have different ways of getting your cell phone number. They might generate your number at random using a computer program, purchase a marketing list that contains your number or even hack into legitimate websites that store your information. You can read more about this in our Target Contests update post. Thanks for your comment.

      Reply
  56. b

    Just received this text this morning in NY. I often enter Target contests so I was fooled for a second, but then I researched it. Thanks!

    Reply
  57. jeff

    there are just too many wats to get you.few years ago it was you aswered a text and you wound up signing uop for massages at 9.99 a month., by the time you caught it and cancelled you still had to pay it .next call i make is to blpck number

    Reply
  58. Edward

    Your entry last month has WON! Go to TargetContests.com and enter your winning code 2912 to claim your FREE $1000 Target gift card within 24hrs. Phone #9097625806 is where the txt came from.

    Reply
  59. Merv

    Just got this. I have a 516 (Nassau county, NY) area code though I live in Southern California now. I got a targetcontests message from (951) 902-5976

    Reply
  60. ricky kelley

    hey,i didnt fall for this for 1 second. i got a email at 2oc 12/23/12 am. handcap cant sleep well,but getting email at 2am then cant get back to sleep just sucks,hope they chacge them an lock them up

    Reply

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