Don’t just count on luck this month to win big. Today there are so many avenues that fraudsters take to scam you. You can get a call, email, or letter saying you won a sweepstakes, lottery, or prizes. Below are some helpful hints pointing you to a money scam:
Signs of a prize scam
- They say you must pay to get your prize. Remember that real prizes are free. So, if someone tells you to pay a fee for “taxes,” “shipping and handling charges,” or “processing fees” to get your prize, you’re dealing with a scammer. If they ask you to pay by wiring money, sending cash, or paying with gift cards or cryptocurrency to get your prize, don’t do it. Scammers use these payments because it’s hard to track where the money went to and it’s almost impossible to get your money back.
- They say paying increases your odds of winning. But real sweepstakes are free and winning is by chance. It’s illegal for someone to ask you to pay to increase your odds of winning.
- You must give your financial information. There’s absolutely no reason to ever give your bank account or credit card number to claim any prize or sweepstakes.
A few types of lottery scams
- Check scam: the intended victims are contacted and sent a bogus winner’s check through the post. The scammer asks the victim to immediately send back some money to cover expenses, taxes, clearance funds, etc. It’s only after the victim has sent their own money and tried to cash the check that they discover it is counterfeit and has bounced.
- Social media scam: The scammer targets accounts on social media platforms. These scams operate in a similar manner to other lottery scams.
- Drip feed scam: The scammer slowly gleans personal information from the victim over a period of time until they have enough to take over the victim’s bank account or apply for credit in their name. During the first contact, the scammer often informs their intended victim that they’ve won a prize and asks for their full name and address. Next, they may ask for the victim’s date of birth and social security number, followed by their bank account details.
A few ways to avoid scams
- Ask yourself if you entered a particular contest. If you didn’t enter it, the prize notice is likely a fake.
- Some scammers use the names of organizations that run real sweepstakes. Research the company’s contact information. Contact them to verify if the prize is legitimate.
- Report spam text messages to your mobile carrier, then delete them.
- Hang up on suspicious calls.
Remember the golden rule – if it sounds too good to be true, it often is.
If you feel you have been a victim of fraud you can report suspicious activities to the Federal Trade Commission at ReportFraud.ftc.gov, as well as Arvest Bank. In addition, most social media platforms have ways to report user profiles that were either taken over or created with the malicious intent of scamming people.
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