Entering the lottery, contests and sweepstakes is a fun pastime for many people. However, the scams associated with this particular hobby are overwhelming. How can you tell if someone is trying to scam you? Let’s take a look.
Pay for your Prize-
A lot of scammers will tell you you’ve won and then ask you to send them money to claim your prize. Real contests, lotteries and sweepstakes will never do this. They are free and random. A legitimate prize will always be sent to you free of charge. Companies plan for that expense when coordinating their sweepstakes, contests, etc.
Increase your Chances of Winning by Paying-
If you ever get a message saying that if you pay someone money, you’ll have a better chance of winning the grand prize, immediately know it’s a scam. This tactic is actually illegal so make sure you don’t fall prey to it.
Impersonating Government Officials-
Be wary of anyone claiming to be a government official and asking you for money or personal information. An article written by consumer.ftc.gov states, “Scammers try to look official. They want you to think you’ve won a government-supervised lottery or sweepstakes. They make up fake names like the “National Sweepstakes Bureau,” or pretend they’re from a real agency like the Federal Trade Commission. The truth is, the government won’t call you to demand money so you can collect a prize.”
Impersonating a Brand or Influencer-
Scammers are also becoming really good at impersonating brands or influencers you may follow. The above mentioned article goes on to say, “Scammers might pretend to be from well-known companies that run real sweepstakes. But no real sweepstakes company will contact you to ask for money so you can claim a prize. If you’re unsure, contact the real company directly to find out the truth. And look up the real company’s contact information yourself. Don’t rely on the person who reached out to you to provide you with the real contact information.”
The ‘Act Now’ Technique-
A scammer’s ultimate goal is to pressure you into giving up your personal information as quickly as possible. Many times, they use verbiage like ‘act now’ and ‘for a limited time’ or you might miss out on this opportunity.
Fake Check Scam-
Many scammers will use a fake check scam. They will send you a check that looks real but is actually fake. It can take weeks for your bank to realize the check is fake but they will have likely already made the funds available. Once you have that in your possession, the scammer will ask for you to ‘send some of the money back’. This means that you receive fake money but end up sending some of your real money back to the scammer. You will be expected to pay back the bank for any funds lost during these transactions.
Protect yourself against online scams by heeding the above mentioned advice.