Federal government moves to shut down spam text message operations

You just won a $1,000 gift card! At least that's what the text message millions of Americans received recently said.

I've warned you about it before and, now, the federal government is taking action.

Monday, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) moved to shut down what it's calling an "international network of scammers" that likely sent you those texts. They came from major retailers like Best Buy, Walmart and Target.

The scammers are from Canada, Cyprus, India, Florida and Las Vegas and they sent millions of these text messages, according to the FTC.

The agency claims they were after your personal information and, often, your money.

In the guise of asking you where they can ship your gift card, they would get your address. And, they might ask you to apply for credit or pay to subscribe to services to more cards. That's how they would get consumers' credit card information, the FTC said.

The scammers often also got a hold of consumers' phone numbers and signed them up to receive robocalls, the FTC alleges.

"In most, if not all, instances," the FTC writes in its press release, "it would be impossible for a consumer to receive the allegedly ‘free' merchandise without spending money."

The agency is trying to get an injunction to shut down operations and force them to pay back the money they made.

Remember, you don't get something for nothing and you can't win a contest you didn't enter. So, don't click on any links in text messages like this.

If you need help or need to warn others about a consumer problem or scam, let me know at joe@abc15.com or by going to my  "Let Joe Know" Facebook page.

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