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Lottery and Prize Scams

Big win or big scam?

Lottery and Prize Scams

Protecting Yourself Against Lottery and Prize Scams

Everyone wants to win a big prize. Whether it is cash, electronics or even a new car. But beware, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Here are some of the biggest signs that your big win could be a big scam.

  • Paying to get your prize: Real prizes don’t require you to give up your credit card or bank information. If someone tells you they need you to pay shipping, taxes or processing fees, you’re dealing with a scam. Additionally, if they want to wire you money, pay by gift card or even cryptocurrency to get your prize, shut it down. These forms of payments make it hard to track who the money went to, meaning you’re out that big prize, but also your hard-earned cash.
  • Paying increases your odds of winning: Real sweepstakes and contests are free and the winning is all a game of chance. Asking you to pay to increase your odds of winning is an illegal practice.
  • You’re asked to hand over your bank information: This is a big one. There’s no reason to ever give your bank information to someone you don’t know, especially if they say it’s to claim a prize.

These sneaky cyber crooks will say anything to trick you into giving up your information. These are a few of the most common ways they go about gaining your trust:

  • Saying they’re from the government: Making up agencies like the “National Sweepstake Bureau” is a tactic to try to gain your trust so you hand over your information.
  • Sending you a message through email or social media (like Facebook Messenger): They use this tactic to try to get you to send your personal information. Sometimes scammers will even copy an organization’s social media profile to make it look like it’s coming from a legitimate source.
  • Sending you a check, but asking you to send some of the money back: This is a fake check. Once you deposit it into your account, it takes the bank a while to determine it is a fake. In the meantime, it looks like the funds are available. However, once it’s found out that it’s fake, you’re out that money.

The best thing you can do to avoid these types of scams is to be vigilant. Look for the warning signs and report anything you suspect to be a scam to the FTC or your local consumer protection office.