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Text claiming Target offering free coronavirus groceries a scam

Shawn M. Carter

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If you recently got a text claiming Target is giving away free groceries, it likely was a scam.

The retailer’s website addressed online security after multiple reports of a mobile message scheme that says the recipient of the text qualifies for $175 worth of free groceries amid the coronavirus pandemic. The message comes with a clickable link to redeem the offer.

“Don’t click on or respond to online ads or websites offering free gift cards,” Target said on its site, adding that customers should watch out for fishy phone calls, too. "If you get a call from a stranger who says that a loved one is in trouble and they ask you to provide gift card numbers to help them, hang up and contact your loved one. Don’t always trust your caller ID. Scammers can manipulate to look like a company or government agency.”

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The Federal Trade Commission received more than 3 million reports, over the phone, through the web and elsewhere, last year about scammers trying to defraud consumers, data show. Officials said they recovered $232 million in refunds for people who lost money.

For that reason, it’s important to take steps to protect your data.

“We tell people to ‘own it, secure it and protect it’ by using long and strong passwords, implementing multi-factor authentication on any account it’s offered and to update the latest security software, web browser and operating systems,” Ronn Torossian, chief executive officer of 5WPR, previously told FOX Business.

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That follows advice Target gave in 2019, suggesting shoppers use different usernames and passwords for all accounts, including easy-to-remember numbers, letters and symbols.

The mobile scam comes not long after Target announced new safety measures for its in-person shoppers. Last month, it said it would monitor and, when needed, meter guest traffic to promote social distancing as well as supply its team members with face masks and gloves.

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For the month of February, Target said total comparable sales increased 3.8 percent but said with the uncertain outlook for consumer shopping patterns post-pandemic, there is an “unusually wide” range of potential outcomes for Target’s first-quarter financial performance.

“During these unprecedented times, the benefits of our strong balance sheet and diverse, multi-category assortment are particularly important,” said Fiddelke, executive vice president and chief financial officer. “With the best team in retail-focused on serving our guests, and ample financial capacity to navigate a highly uncertain outlook, we are confident that Target will emerge from the current environment with an even stronger guest relationship and continue to operate from a position of financial strength.”

Shares of Target closed at $123.17 and were up 71 percent on the year.

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