The Walmart Text Scam: What It Is and How to Protect Yourself From It

Rollback that text: There's no gift card waiting for you

The Walmart text scam is like most others: An attempt to get your personal information so scammers can steal your money.

What Is the Walmart Text Scam?

This scam uses text messaging in several different ways:. Called smishing, these kinds of scams use the Walmart brand to try to convince people there is a reason to click the link in the message.

The text might tell you you won a $1,000 gift card from the retailer, you missed a delivery of a $1,000 voucher, or there is a survey to fill out regarding your experience at Walmart.

In all cases, a link is included with the text that you are encouraged to click. Once clicked, you are directed to fill in personal information to get your gift card or some other incentive. But it's not Walmart receiving your information; it's a sophisticated group of scammers ready to use that info to steal money from you in some way.

How Does the Walmart Scam Work?

This scam works on the theory everyone shops at Walmart, so a text from the retail giant isn't a completely random concept for the masses. Text scams like this tend to also include your name, which makes it seem even more legitimate.

A sample Walmart scam text
Michigan City Police Department 

Click that link, however, and you're taken to a fake website where personal details are requested in order to 'confirm' your identity and finalize delivery of whatever is being promised or complete that 'survey' that really isn't from Walmart.

Once scammers have your personal information, it's fraudulently used to empty bank accounts, make purchases for products that will never come to you, or perform other crimes.

How Do the Scammers Find Victims?

Even though the text seems personal, your name and phone number were actually lifted out of some other scam that involved stealing thousands of phone numbers and corresponding names. Scammers use these lists to send out texts in a blanket approach to find victims.

How Do I Avoid Getting Involved in This Scam?

The single best way to avoid becoming a victim of text message scams like this is to never click the link in the text. While Walmart does indeed run sweepstakes to award legitimate gift cards, it will never text you about one. Instead, it uses certified mail to notify winners.

Messages like this are intended to evoke both greed and hope, particularly during periods of societal unrest such as a pandemic. Simply delete the text and move on; don't even respond 'stop' to one of these messages. Scammers pay attention to phone numbers that indicate activity; any response tells them they have someone on the other end willing to engage which makes you a potential target for a new text scam next month.

I’m Already a Victim. What Should I Do?

First, falling for a text scam can happen to anyone. Scammers rely on your embarrassment to keep you from reporting them so the best action is to immediately thwart them by calling your bank and credit card companies to alert them that you have been a victims.

Next, file a fraud alert with the three major credit bureaus (ExperianTransUnion, and Equifax). Once that's done, run anti-virus and anti-malware programs from trusted sources just in case that link silently downloaded malicious software to your phone. There are really good antivirus apps for both Android and even a few antivirus apps for the iPhone.

When your phone is clean, change your passwords for any accounts that contain personal or financial information, then add two-factor authentication (2FA) to any accounts that offer it.

You can also file separate reports with your local FBI field office and the Federal Trade Commission’s Complaint Assistant. These reports are helpful in helping officials track down scammers; keep copies of the texts in case they’re ever needed for a future investigation or court case.

How Do I Avoid Being Targeted For This Scam?

Because texting scams like this are based on stolen lists, so there's just no way to truly avoid ever becoming a target. There are things you can do, though, to avoid becoming a victim.

  • Don't click that link: Remember, Walmart will never text you about a gift card or survey. Your best response is to ignore that text.
  • Never, ever respond to a suspicious text. Delete the message (get a screenshot if you decide to report it) and immediately block the sender. Do not reply STOP to the number; that action confirms your phone is active and encourages more texts from scammers.
  • Don't give out your phone number: Many businesses or websites ask for personal details in return for setting up various services. However, any time you can skip entering a phone number, do. The less your phone number is out on the internet, the better.
  • Carefully review each text you receive: Smishing attempts rely on busy victims responding to any message received. Staying aware and paying extra attention to texts that don't make sense will keep you from becoming a victim.