The Federal Trade Commission said Thursday that it has charged 29 people with sending over 180 million unwanted text messages in a handful of separate campaigns promising consumers free gift cards.
In eight separate complaints, the agency said that the 29 defendants have been charged with promising consumers false deals and gift certificates, encouraging them to click on links that then directed them to divulge personal information, pay for subscription services and even apply for credit cards.
The FTC said that, to its knowledge, none of the people who responded to the text messages received anything that had been promised to them.
The agency is exploring options to reimburse users who’ve been affected by these types of campaigns.
FTC officials said they have received around 20,000 complaints about text messages promising free gift cards, and at least 50,000 complaints about spam texts in general.
Those who receive this kind of message can file a complaint with the agency online or by calling 1-888-225-5322. The agency recommends that those who receive a spam message also forward the message to the number “7726” or “SPAM” to report it to their carriers, who use that information to identify problem areas on their networks.