Don’t fall for gift-card scams

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In February 2014, Federal Trade Commission fined scammers who falsely promised free gift cards to consumers and sold consumer information. Unfortunately, these scams aren’t going away.

FTC says 12 defendants paid to send millions of text messages that promised free $1,000 gift cards to consumers. After clicking a link in the text, consumers were led to other deals for which they had to sign up to get the gift card, which they never received. Instead, consumers’ banking information was collected and sold to third parties, FTC says.

Steve Wernikoff of FTC says the agency can’t shut down the companies. Defendants were fined a total of $2.5 million, which is how much they made from the scams, Wernikoff says. Defendants also must destroy all collected consumer information and notify consumers about how they’ll use future information.

The defendants’ websites could restart under different business names, Wernikoff says. He says you always should delete unsolicited texts or emails that promise free gifts in exchange for banking information and your phone number.