Recently, a group of online criminals attacked Walmart and Target customers by sending out mass SMS text messages, claiming that those on the receiving end of the texts had received a gift card. All users had to do was respond to the message and then enter in their credit card information to cover the costs of shipping and handling the "present."
This practice is known as "smishing" – a combination of SMS text messaging and phishing, according to NBC News.
Both retail chains, though, have been quick to distance themselves from the illegal activities, with Walmart's statement even warning customers to be wary of any type of promotional message received from the company.
Claudia Bourne Farrell, a spokeswoman for the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), told the news source that the organization is aware that such attacks have been occurring recently.
The problem has been large enough of an issue in Rhode Island that the state attorney general, Peter Kilmartin, released a statement warning cell phone users to take caution when responding to certain types of text messages.
"Consumers reported that they are being asked to provide credit card information to cover the cost of shipping and handling," Kilmartin said. "Consumers who give this sensitive information may find themselves fulfilling 'sponsor offers' like free trial offers with monthly fees or increased solicitations and junk mail."
When businesses partner with an outbound call center, though, they will be provided with safe and legitimate campaigns to reach out to customers through text messaging services. These professionals are one step beyond an automated response system in that consumers can get detailed and personalized answers to any questions they have.