Viewers question text message phishing for personal information

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) Viewers in our viewing area are reporting a questionable business practice, promising a free gift card in a text message.

A WMBF News viewer reports that they received a text message that read:

"Thank you for contacting Walmart. You will be receiving a $100 gift certificate to Walmart. Please call 877-314-0070."

Our viewer called that number, and reports that the person who answered had a dialect making them sound local. They were asked to verify their street address, phone number and checking account information for magazines and books that would be mailed to their home.

Our viewer contacted a local Walmart before contacting us to inquire about this gift card offer and discovered that several people in the area have received similar messages and made calls to a local Walmart about this possible scam.

"My dad was taken advantage of and I don't want anyone else to be taken advantage of. I don't think it's right," said Stephanie Young, who contacted us about the message.

Many others say they've received similar messages and the Coastal Better Business Bureau reports taking calls about these messages over the last few days.

"That's false advertising. That's bait and switch. You think you're getting something no strings attached and then you turn around and who knows your information could be sold for some mailing list," said Kathy Graham with the BBB.

WMBF News learned the company issuing the messages is called Gulf Coast Readers. It's based in Southwest Florida and sells magazine subscriptions.

Reporter Evan Lambert called to speak to the company about questionable business tactics and the representative who answered the phone refused to put a manager on the line and then hung up.

Better Business Bureau records indicate the company has a C- grade based on complaints about false advertising and misrepresentation.

WMBF News has reached out to Walmart for a statement concerning this reported scam.

If you feel you have fallen victim to a scam, report it to the Federal Trade Commission.

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