Scammers using text messages to steal personal information

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by BELO affiliate KMOV

WHAS11.com

Posted on June 5, 2012 at 7:25 PM

ST. LOUIS (KMOV) – Some residents are complaining about the latest method scammers are using to jip people out of their money: cell phone text messages.

The victims say they continue to get text messages claiming they’ve won a $1,000 gift card. The only problem? It’s all a lie.

Walmart and Best Buy are two of the favorite companies mentioned in the text.

It’s the newest way that thieves are trying to get their hands in consumers’ pocket.

“It said something like you won $1,000 from Best Buy or a Best Buy gift card if you click on this link,” said St. Louis resident Laura McDonald.

“I thought, ‘no way, I’ve seen enough scams to know that it was not true at all,’” added Alicia Hilliard.

The texts look legitimate, but whoever clicks on the link will be asked for person information.

“The whole point of this is they want your identification to steal it to open up lines of credit in your name,” said Jack Huelsman with the St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s Office.

One text about a gift card from Best Buy actually has a St. Louis area code.

But when you call it, it goes to a pre-recorded message saying the line is down.

Security experts say the best advice is to not click the link like the millions of people who have had their identities stolen.

Officials say in September, those who do not want to be contacted can add their number to the cell phone “no call” list in Missouri, which covers texts too.  But in the meantime, stay on guard.

“Remember the adage: if it sounds too good to be true it probably is,” said Huelsman. “You did not win that $1,000 gift card.”

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