Text-message scams on the rise

Consumer Protection B.C. is warning people to be wary of text-message scams after the number of hoaxes jumped 600 per cent in 2012.

Consumer Protection B.C. is warning people to be wary of text-message scams.

From free gift cards to cash prizes or all-expenses paid cruises, spokesperson Manjit Bains warns the offers are often too good to be true.

"We're warning consumers, especially British Columbians, that there definitely has been a rise in text scams."

Bains made the comments Monday after the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre announced texting-related hoaxes jumped 600 per cent in 2012 from the previous year. More than $7,700 in losses was reported in 2012.

Bains says one scam lures consumers by promising a free gift card, cruise or vacation and then asks them to click on a link and fill out personal information.

"In some kinds of text they may be asking you for some kind of banking information, your bank account, or credit card information," she said.

"So either money may be withdrawn from your bank account or charges on your credit card."

Mark Fernandes with the Better Business Bureau says the jump in reported scams could be linked to the rise in smartphone use among young people.

"We're seeing more and more people getting smart phones with internet access and are more willing participants to play games and use apps on their phones," he said.

Fernandes warns users never to enter personal information in any links connected to suspicious texts and to avoid playing games on smartphones that request personal data.