Whether you find an excuse to shop there all the time or have simply stopped in for a last-minute purchase, the odds are good that you’ve been to a Walmart.
The modern-day department store has taken the U.S.—and much of the world—by storm since it was founded by Sam Walton back in 1962. From its humble beginnings in Rogers, Arkansas, the store has grown to a mega-presence, planting roots in more than 10,000 locations across over 20 countries and every continent outside Antarctica. And with the introduction of wholesale, retail company Sam’s Club in 1989, the Walton family has only continued to cement their presence on the shopping scene.
With offerings ranging from diapers to dresses, camping gear to home decor, makeup to mouse traps, and everything in-between, Walmart offers true one-stop shopping within their cavern-like stores. And the company is nothing if not famous for its affordable prices.
But Walmart isn’t just a favorite of savvy shoppers. Scammers have found numerous ways to drag the company into their schemes, including Walmart email scams, Walmart online scams, and many other Walmart-related plots.
We alert you to the different types of Walmart scams—giving you information on what they look like, how they operate, and what you can do about them to help you stay aware and, most importantly, stay safe.
One of the reasons Walmart scams are so persistent is because the company is so well known.
Scammers trade on the trust consumers already have in the brand to trick people into believing them, which is why most Walmart scams masquerade as messages from the company itself.
One of the many different Walmart online scams, there may be several different versions of this scheme.
Typically, it starts with a social media post. Pages pretending to be Walmart or people pretending to work for them will post about some sort of giveaway the company is supposedly doing. A recent example saw social media posts promoting a gift bag giveaway to celebrate Walmart’s decision to stop using plastic bags.
But regardless of the specifics, the endgame is always the same. The post will direct you to some sort of website where you’ll be asked to enter personal information to be eligible for the giveaway. Of course, that information is only sent to scammers.
Again, there are numerous different versions of this phishing scam, which involves scammers reaching out by email in an attempt to gather your details.
One of the more recent iterations of this Walmart scam involved emails sent to customers claiming something was wrong with their package delivery. Other versions of this scam might look like delivery invoices or emails sent from Walmart’s security team to warn you about a problem with your online account.
Still, in all of these cases, the cleverly crafted emails are sent by scammers hoping to scope up sensitive information.
Many scammers rely on this type of plot to take your money.
Many Walmart gift card scams target sites like Craigslist or eBay but also come in the form of scammers pretending to work for other companies that collect dues, including:
Either way, the scammer will ask you to pay them by putting a certain amount of money on Walmart gift cards, then giving them the codes on the back of the cards. This gives the scammer access to all the money you put on the card—but it will never actually count toward paying off your debt.
In another scheme where scammers pretend to be Walmart, a letter is sent out at random, telling recipients that they’re being paid for participating in a mystery shopper survey.
The letter will include a check and detailed instructions on how to cash it, then inform you that you’ll have to send a large portion of the money back to redeem your payment.
If getting money for nothing wasn’t enough indication, the complicated directions should be—this is a scam, and the money will get taken directly from your bank account and transferred to a scammer.
This one can get a bit tricky since Walmart actually does have an in-store experience survey. The company also does legitimately holds sweepstakes for those who complete the survey.
However, scammers take advantage of these real-life deals. They send a message telling you you’ve won the sweepstakes, then ask you to either enter personal or sensitive information—like your bank account details—or send a fee to recoup the money. These are both ways to scam you.
Since Walmart scams run the gamut, there could be any number of things to look out for. But if you stay wary and read carefully (or through the lines), there are a few reliable red flags that may help you detect what’s going on, regardless of how the scam is set up.
Some universal signs of scams include:
Other things to watch for when dealing with a Walmart online scam include:
And remember: The best way to beat a scam is to not interact with it. That means:
Unfortunately, Walmart doesn’t offer much in the way of customer scam protection.
The company does note that it will never give away gift cards or other prizes via text message or on social media, including:
Walmart also notes that it will only communicate via phone and certified mail when reaching out to customers with sweepstakes information.
Other than that, the best offense is a good defense. Make sure you keep the tips above in mind and stay wary when interacting with any posts, emails, texts, letters, or messages that supposedly come from the company.
You can also shore up your online security in general by making sure your passwords are unique and hard to guess.
If you do think you’ve been scammed, you should strongly consider:
And remember: If something seems too good to be true, it more than often is!
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