Like all forms of business, SMS text marketing, when conducted by the wrong people, can be used for malicious activity. Such was the case with a group of online criminals who sent out texts that spammed users under the guise of Walmart and Target gift cards.

The practice, known as "smishing" – a combination of SMS messaging and phishing – allows the recipients to believe that they have received a gift card for a popular retail chain. When users respond, they are asked to enter sensitive personal data, which is then used to steal money or send additional spam.

Walmart and Target are two of the latest victims, although they have been reported to have no connection whatsoever to the messages. In fact, Walmart issued a statement detatching itself from the criminal activity and warned users to be wary of any kind of promotional message from the company.

The issue became so severe that Rhode Island state attorney general Peter Kilmartin released a statement warning all cellphone users.

"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."

Businesses looking to conduct SMS marketing campaigns must be on the lookout for any kind of activity that could smear their reputation. Walmart and Target's future legitimate SMS marketing efforts are now compromised because users may not trust any text message associated with their names.

This illustrates the importance of working with a trusted text messaging service provider. Swift SMS Gateway provides businesses with the tools they need to launch safe, legitimate and successful campaigns that enhance the public image of a company's brand.