FTC cracking down on spam text message senders

Summary:The next target in the crosshairs of the FTC? Senders of spam text messages, beware.

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The Federal Trade Commission announced on Thursday that it plans to take a hard line against the senders of spam text messages, starting immediately.

Charles A. Harwood, acting director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, quipped in prepared remarks that it's "game over" for the "major league scam artists behind millions of spam texts."

He also advised that any consumers who think they have received spam texts should delete them immediately, referring to these free offers as "garbage."

Specifically, the FTC is interested in cracking down on fake marketing ploys related to "free" gift cards.

The federal agency said that these cyber hoodlums have "allegedly bombarded consumers" with approximately 180 million unwanted spam text messages.

Most of these messages reportedly went to random phone numbers, including consumers who don't even have texting plans on their mobile subscriptions. The FTC cited that demographic accounts for approximately 12 percent of mobile users nationwide.

According to the FTC's statement, these messages teased consumers with the potential to win gift cards worth up to $1,000 from major retailers such as Best Buy, Walmart, and Target.

Besides no real prize in sight, the bigger problem for consumers was that clicking on the offers opened them up to identity theft because the fake offers asked for sensitive personal data to pay for services that would lead to the "free" gift cards.

The FTC has actually already gotten the ball rolling by charging 29 defendants in eight different complaints in courts across the United States.

Topics: Legal, Government, Government : US, Mobility, Security

About

Rachel King is a staff writer for CBS Interactive based in San Francisco, covering business and enterprise technology for ZDNet, CNET and SmartPlanet. She has previously worked for The Business Insider, FastCompany.com, CNN's San Francisco bureau and the U.S. Department of State. Rachel has also written for MainStreet.com, Irish Americ... Full Bio

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