Consumer Alert: Gift Card Giveaway Scheme

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- If it sounds too good to be true ...

Fans of "Dave and Tia" on WKEE radio are learning that the morning duo knows a thing or two about that old saying.

Dave Roberts and Tia Fletcher are no different from millions of others in this country who have received a text message alerting them they won a prize.

It turns out that the Target Gift Card scheme is known to law enforcement agencies from coast to coast.

"Think of how many people could totally use a $500 gift card, right now, in this economy," says Dave Roberts. "I thought at first it was a scam, but then I talked myself into believing I had actually won a $500 gift card.

Roberts is not alone.

"We've gotten complaints about it," says Matthew Stonestreet with the West Virginia Attorney General's office. "We've taken calls from people who gave personal information on the web, only to find out the whole thing is a scam."

It's called phishing (pronounced "fishing"). Phishing is attempting to acquire information like usernames, passwords and credit card details by masquerading as a trustworthy entity in electronic communication. In this case, the trustworthy entity is Target. But the retail giant is in not involved with the text messages millions are getting.

For people who may have fallen prey to the fake contest, it's important to act, quickly.

"They should call the West Virginia Attorney General's Office. They should also call the Federal Trade Commission," Stonestreet said. "The number one complaint in recent years has been identity theft. This isn't going anywhere; it's only going to get worse."

Roberts went online to register, but when the website required he divulge his email, he got suspicious and backed off.

"I feel like I've been had, but I didn't take it too far," Roberts said. "Once it asked for my email address, I stopped and thought, 'Hey, this is probably a scam.'"

The gift card fiasco made for entertaining fodder on morning radio. Dave's partner, Tia, says there's a lesson here.

"Target workers say their phone lines have been blowing up, like 50 calls a day," Fletcher says. "Ask a friend, check websites. If you didn't register for a prize or drawing, then you probably didn't win one."

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