'Free' Cellphone Scam Misuse Consumer Information

March 21, 2013 4:12:06 AM PDT
New scams seem to pop up all the time and this latest one is disguised as a text message that pretends to offer consumers the opportunity to receive a free gift card.

Consumers are lured in by the offer of the gift card, but are required to enter sensitive information which may be passed on to a third party. The Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois (BBB) offers tips on identifying and avoiding such scams.

Many consumers who received these text messages clicked on the link and found themselves on a page that asked for personal information, having to sign up for a credit card, or having them sign up for a subscription to then receive a "free" gift card. In other instances, the consumers were led to a page where they had to sign up for different offers and pass them along to three other consumers just to obtain the gift card.

Consumers were also deceived as to how their personal information would be used. They provided information under the impression that it was necessary for the free gift card to be shipped to them, but it is alleged that the information was sold to a third party. Scammers also make a profit by featuring certain deals on their websites and driving consumers to these businesses websites.

"With the continuing technological changes, it is important to fully understand what is being offered to you whether on the internet or through other means. This is especially important when the offer is for something purportedly completely free," said Steve J. Bernas, president & CEO of the BBB. The BBB offers the following tips for avoiding cellphone scams:

? Be aware of what links you are clicking. In many cellphone scams the users click on links that bring them to different pages that ask for sensitive information. Some of these pages may not be trustworthy so it is important to make sure it is a secure site.

? Be careful of what information you give out. These cellphone scams want to get as much information as possible. Never enter sensitive, personal information onto a website without making sure it is secure.

? Check out a company with the BBB. Before signing up for any subscriptions, check out the company with the Better Business Bureau www.bbb.org http://www.bbb.org to make sure it is an ethical business.

Bernas reminds that when it sounds too good to be true it usually is just that.

For more advice on finding businesses you can trust, visit www.bbb.org