The $1,000 Best Buy Gift Card Scam

The $1,000 Best Buy Gift Card Scam

You have WON a Best Buy Gift Card for $1000! Click on the link below and enter the code #8675309

If you received a text message telling you that you’ve won a Best Buy Gift Card… don’t get so excited. The sad truth is it’s a fraud, and the only thing you’ve won is a spam text message that’s looking to take you for a ride. And not the good kind that ends with you on a beach with a fancy drink in your hand that has a giant piece of fruit on the side.

Gift card scams are nothing new, but using SMS text messages to phish for victims, known as “smishing“, is something that’s gaining more ground, especially as more and more people begin to rely on their smartphones to consume their online habits like shopping, social media, and more. Smishing usually happens around holidays like Christmas or special shopping times like Black Friday, but the truth of the matter is that a smisher can easily send out their texts at any time to virtually anyone.

Here are some red flags to look out for if you receive a text claiming that you’ve won a gift card:

  • Asking for a PIN or other personal information:

    You should never be asked for any personally identifiable information by a site like Best Buy, Walmart, Target, etc. The only time you might be is if you’re on their shopping cart, on their server, and if the site is verified as a secure site. Even then, they won’t ask for your banking PIN, which is a clear indication that you’re being scammed. Stay secure online, and don’t submit your personal information to shady sites.

  • Text/email that mentions a contest entry you never submitted:

    This is a big one because if you didn’t enter, how can you win? Simple: You can’t. I get emails all the time (and text messages every now and then) which claim that I entered this contest or that, but I know they’re all scammers because I don’t, as a rule, enter contests. And if you’re not sure if you entered your name, it’s usually safer to just ignore the text anyhow.

  • You’re required to sign up for a “free” service:

    More often than not, that free service you’re required to sign up for to receive your gift card has some kind of kicker to it, like after 30 days you start paying $9.99/month, or something like that. And they may even tell you that they only need your credit card to verify your age, or that you can cancel any time before the service starts, but it’s all a ploy to get your bank info. Stay safe and steer clear.

Just like with unsubscribe links on a spam email, don’t be tempted to try to opt out of the text message either, because once you do the scammers have confirmation that they sent the text to a live, active phone number, email address, etc. Just ignore, delete, and move on with your day.

Have you or a friend or family member ever received a text message claiming you’ve won a gift card from Best Buy, Target, Walmart, or anywhere else? Let us know what happened below in the comments.

Additional Resources

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About Jon

Jon has worked in the tech industry since the pre-Bubble dotcom days and still has a 1200 Baud modem somewhere in his garage. When he's not advocating the use of strong passwords and being smart about social media, he's working on finding new ways to convince his wife that bacon is a vegetable which should be eaten with every meal.