Don't fall for Walmart gift card text scam

May 4, 2012 3:49:01 PM PDT
You may have gotten this message on your cell phone more than once -- 'You just won a free Walmart gift card.' But Walmart is flat out calling it a scam.

A $1,000 Walmart gift card can go a long way for a family, and if you have a cell phone it may appear you have one waiting for you. But the company says don't believe it.

The text message sounds promising -- a $1,000 Walmart gift card is yours. Cody Boyd has seen more than one such offer on her phone.

"I won a $5,000 gift card or $10,000 gift card," she said.

Same thing with Carol Mbaraka.

"If you text back, you get $50 back," she said.

The text messages make it seem like the card is yours, but there are several steps consumers have to take first.

Monica Russo with the Houston Better Business Bureau logged on to several websites pushed by the text messages. Russo found she first had to enter in her name and address and email, then answer a quick survey and then sign up for at least four trial offers in order to be eligible for the gift card. Those trial offers typically start charging consumers after 30 days unless canceled after the trial period.

"It looks like it is very difficult to redeem this card," Russo said. "There are a lot of terms and conditions that most people will not meet. In addition to that, it looks like you have to purchase several different offers."

Walmart has weighed in on the text message notifications, saying on its website, "These text messages and the sites being used are not from Walmart and Walmart is not associated with parties promoting this activity."

The company has asked the Federal Trade Commission to block the text messages, but finding the senders has been difficult.

Russo explained, "They are registered under a domain by proxy, which means they are anonymous and you do not know who the site is owned by and who it is run by."

The BBB and Walmart says the best advice is to delete the messages. Walmart has asked the FTC to look into the matter and would issue a cease and desist order if the company behind the messages could be found.


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