Scam alert: Beware the dangerous ‘Cellular Carrier Loyalty Giveaway’ scam

As you probably know by now, the scammers of the world are always coming up with new ways to separate innocent people from their hard-earned money.

Since the dawn of the World Wide Web, most phishing scams have been perpetrated via email, but that’s beginning to change.

While email is still the primary vehicle for delivering these types of scams, a relatively new generation of scams are now arriving in the form of SMS text messages.

What makes these text scams so dangerous is the fact that most people aren’t used to seeing scams being delivered this way.

Also, in most cases the scammer knows which cellular carrier you use (your phone number is a major clue) so they reference your actual carrier in the message.

If you want to see how easy it is for a scammer to find out who your cellular carrier is, just follow the steps below for the device you’re using.

If you’re using a laptop or desktop computer:

1 – Open a web browser and visit .

2 – Enter your phone number’s Area Code & Prefix.

Note: You don’t need to enter the last four digits of your phone number, just the area code and prefix.

3 – Click the Search button.

If you’re using smartphone:

1 – Open a web browser and visit .

2 – Tap Area Code and Prefix search.

3 – Enter your phone number’s Area Code & Prefix.

Note: You don’t need to enter the last four digits of your phone number, just the area code and prefix.

4 – Tap the Lookup Area Code & Prefix button.

Pretty simple, right?

While the details vary a bit, most of these “loyalty thank-you” scams work like this:

You receive a text message on your phone that appears to be from your cellular carrier.

The message begins by thanking you for being a loyal customer, then it says you qualify to receive a cash payout as a thank-you.

The amounts mentioned in these messages vary, but most people are reporting that the messages they received had the amount listed as $200.

According to the message, all you have to do in order to “claim” the thank-you gift is to tap a link in the message.

Once you tap the link your phone’s default browser will open displaying a website with a form to enter your banking info. They have to have some way to send you your money, right?

Well, there are several red flags that indicate that these messages are fraudulent.

First, the link in the message will be a shortened link (via Bitly or one of the other popular link shortening services). That obscures the fact that the URL of the page does not reside on the carrier’s official website.

Second, why would your cellular carrier need your banking info? All they would need to do is apply a $200 credit to your account like they routinely do when they offer legitimate promotions.

Bottom line: These messages offering to reward you for being a loyal cellular customer are nothing more than scams. If you take the bait and enter your banking info on the fraudulent website it’ll be the scammer coming into some unexpected money – not you.

If you receive one of these messages simply delete it and move on. If you have already received one and entered you banking info as instructed, contact your bank immediately and tell them what happened.