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West Tennessee Woman Warns of Texting Scam

By Natalie Potts
By npotts@wbbjtv.com

JACKSON, Tenn.- There have been several reports across West Tennessee of scamming automated text messages promising big prizes and holiday gift cards.

One woman who didn't want to be identified, asked WBBJ 7 Eyewitness News to investigate.

"I just got a text message and I pulled it up and it was a message from California that said I had been selected and had won," said the scam victim.

The message read : "Your entry last month has WON! Go to Targetcontests.com and enter your winning code to claim your free $1,000 dollar gift card within 24 hrs."

The messages prompts unsuspecting phone users to click a link to win. Officials said this type of scam is called "smishing" and can come in the form of audio or text messages that trick victims into handing over vital information such as your bank account, debit card or social security number.

"It's just very scary you really have to protect yourself," said the scam victim.

Officials said these types of deceiving automated text messages come in all different shapes and sizes from free gift cards to vacations. Shopper Mary Bennett said she fell victim to a phone scam just last Thursday.

"I keyed in my debit card, not my pin because when they asked for the pin I realized it was a scam so I hung up," said Bennett. "It's sad it's very sad. It just breaks my heart especially the elderly."

In serious cases, experts the scam could lead to identity theft and drain your bank account.

"It just worries me of how many other people that it could have happened to and might have fell prey to it and responded within 24 hours," said the scam victim.

If you receive a text message promising prizes, authorities said it is most likely a scam. Some tips on staying smart phone safe: look for scam indicators such as sloppy language, typos, exclamation marks and informal language.

If you do suspect a scam message, officials said it is best to not respond and contact your phone company immediately to make sure there are no false charges have been made to your bill. If you would like to help authorities identify scammers, you can report the message to FBI officials by forwarding it 7726 and typing SCAM on the keypad.

Target officials said they are working to disable and block all fake websites links and text messages. Target is not affiliated with this program. Officials there encourage customers to contact the Guest Relations team with any questions at 1-800-440-0680.