Scammers scare Arkansans with text messages and robo-calls

Ever get a text message that claims you can get a $1000 gift card from Walmart?

60 percent of people say they had received a spam text in the last year, according to a study by Cloudmark and a version of this scam is going around central Arkansas.

Both Searcy and North Little Rock Police report people are getting robo-calls and texts telling them their debit or credit cards have been canceled by mistake. The text or call says "Your credit card has been deactivated. To reactivate, press 1...."

The FTC says the people behind this are individuals or marketing companies trying to gather your personal information.

If you actually press 1 or click on the link in that Walmart spam text message, you have to keep giving more and more personal information.

"As many as 13 different offers are required to complete supposedly just to receive this free gift card," said Charles Harwood, FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection. "The offers they're presented with include offers to apply for credit, offers to sign up for a free trial offer for various products. At the end of the day, after they complete all those steps- 13 or more steps- they're often presented with something that says now find three more people who will fill out this information."

The FTC is cracking down on these scams, charging 29 individuals and companies from around the U.S. with sending more than 180 million unwanted text messages, but prevention is difficult.

"The telephone companies have some methods to attempt to block spam text messages, but you need to know the number you want to block, and the problem with these scams is that the numbers change so regularly," said Steve Wernikoff a Federal Trade Commission Investigator.

So what should you do if you receive one of these messages? If it's a text, the FTC says to forward it to your carrier by messaging the number "7726" and hitting send.

Searcy Police recommends contacting your bank or credit card company and calling local law enforcement.