If you've ever received a text message from an unknown contact announcing you've won a gift card, don't expect a prize in the mail. It's likely a scam.
The Federal Trade Commission on Thursday announced action against 29 defendants for sending the text spam that winds up costing users millions of dollars in cell phone text charges and other fees.
"We believe that the defendants in these cases are collectively responsible for at least 180 million spam text messages," Steve Baker, the FTC's Director for the Midwest Region.
Those who click on the links included in the texts are sent to websites presenting a series of questions requiring personal information, applications for credit and requests for money for subscriptions for the supposed "free" gift cards.
FTC officials say they've received about 20,000 complaints from consumers. The agency is seeking retraining orders to stop the companies and the individuals from sending the texts. The FTC has also filed complaints against companies that own the websites being advertised.
"There are eight cases so far. Courts have entered orders in five of these cases and hearings are scheduled in the others over the next few days. So we think we're going to make a real dent in the spam text problem," said Baker.