Scams that promise high value vouchers are not uncommon on social media websites. However, more recently, experts have started seeing such schemes arriving as text messages on mobile phones.
Australia’s SCAMwatch warns
users to be on the lookout for SMS messages that purport to offer large prizes on behalf of popular companies. Last week we saw a variant that leveraged Best Buy’s reputation, but of course, the name of the company can be easily changed.
So, let’s take another look at how these plots actually work.
Potential victims receive an SMS in which they’re congratulated for winning a voucher as part of a competition they allegedly entered.
The user is provided with a code that he must enter into a website in order to claim the prize. However, this code is not the only thing that the site requests.
Victims must also enter phone numbers, which is actually the part of the scheme in which the real damage is done.
Many individuals have reported that once they’ve provided the phone number, they’ve been signed up for all sorts of premium services that can cost a lot of money.
To protect yourself against such scams, make sure to never hand out your mobile phone number in response to unsolicited SMSs. Also, never enter personal information on a website, unless you are absolutely certain that it’s legitimate.
Furthermore, you should never respond with “OK” to such messages. The “OK” can be a way of signing up for shady services that can easily inflate a phone bill.
In many cases, the contact information received via text messages is fake. For instance, if you receive an SMS from Best Buy and you’re provided with contact details, presume that they’re false and go to the genuine website to see if the data matches.
Finally, beware of online surveys. In many cases they’re part of a scheme that’s designed to gather sensitive information that can later be utilized in phishing or spam campaigns.