Cramming Scam

The "You've Won a Free Gift Card" spam text messages are so common, you may not think anything of them. But be careful, responding to those texts could accidentally sign you up for a $9.99 per month charge.

There is no gift card, and "winners" found themselves unknowingly signed up for $9.99 per month premium text messaging service. The scam, known as cramming, happens when a company uses your cell phone bill like a credit card, adding a charge for services that you never knowingly purchased. This scam is so prevalent that the FTC got involved and shut down six providers.

The BBB offers the following tips:

• Just hit delete! Ignore instructions to confirm your phone number or visit a link.  Other scam text messages instruct you to text "STOP" or "NO" to prevent future texts. But this is a common ploy by scammers to confirm they have a real, active phone number.

• Read your phone bill: Check all charges on your phone bill each month for products and services you haven't ordered. Pay special attention to sections labeled "Miscellaneous," and the "third-party" charge sections on your bill.

• Know how to combat spam texts. Forward the texts to 7726 (SPAM on most keypads). This will alert your cellphone carrier to block future texts from those numbers.

• Ask your phone carrier about blocking third-party charges. Mobile phone carriers permit outside businesses to place charges on your phone bill, but many carriers also allow you to block these charges for free.