Last year the Federal Communications Commission put new measures in place to protect consumers from spam text messages, and now the Federal Trade Commission is taking actions of its own by filing complaints against 29 different individuals in connection with a massive spam SMS operation. According to the FTC, the defendants were responsible for sending more than 180 million spam text messages promising free gift cards from the likes of Target and Best Buy.

Those that clicked through on links in the messages would be directed to websites where they would be asked for personal information, instructed to apply for a credit card, or be forced to subscribe to different services in order to receive their free gift. The FTC alleges that the personal information collected was then sold to third-party companies to be used in marketing efforts.

Accused of selling personal information to third parties

According to the FTC's charges, the defendants violated the FTC Act by refusing to disclose the costs and conditions actually associated with the gift cards. The FTC's complaints target both those that sent the text messages as well as the websites that are alleged to have collected the personal information, and asks for restraining orders to prevent them from continuing their practices.

In a statement, the acting director of the FTC's Bureau of Consumer Protection, Charles A. Harwood, said that "The FTC is committed to rooting out this deception and stopping it. For consumers who find spam texts on their phones, delete them, immediately. The offers are, in a word, garbage."