Avoid sweepstakes scams
IT IS VERY IMPORTANT for consumers to recognize the difference between a lottery or sweepstakes
that is legitimate and one that is fraudulent. Though
winning a sweepstakes can be a dream come true, it
can quickly become a nightmare if you are the victim
of a scam. Here are the top warning signs that a
sweepstakes is a fraud.
bounces or you read an article like this one and realize that you are being defrauded. If you feel as if you
are being pressured to make a decision before you
have the time to ensure that the win is legitimate, you
should be very suspicious.
You are asked to pay to receive
Legitimate sweepstakes will never ask you to pay
fees to participate or to receive a prize. You should
never have to pay handling charges, service fees or
any other charges upfront in order to win: Those are
sure signs of sweepstakes scams.
The sweepstakes uses a free
If you receive a win notice claiming to be from a
big company such as Publishers Clearing House, but
the e-mail arrived from a free account such as
Hotmail or Gmail, you can be sure that you are working with a sweepstakes scam.
Bank or credit card info is required to
receive your prize.
Legitimate sweepstakes do not send wins by
direct deposit, nor do they need to withdraw money
from your bank or verify information using your
credit card number. The only sensitive information
that a legitimate sweepstakes sponsor needs to process your win is a Social Security number. Asking for
a bank account or credit card number is a huge red
flag that you are dealing with a sweepstakes scam,
and you should never hand over this information.
The “win” is from a lottery.
If you bought a lottery ticket, you’d
have to find the winning numbers in a
newspaper, on the Internet or on TV
and compare them to your ticket; the
lottery does not contact you to tell
you that you won. If your win
notification says you’ve won a
lottery, you can be quite sure
it’s really a sweepstakes scam.
WHILE PARKING in a parking
garage, I heard a loud thump.
I got out of the car and realized that there was a piece of
metal sticking out of the column on the passenger side of
the parking space, and that
my entire bumper and back
door were torn up. There was
no way to see this piece of
metal prior to pulling into the
spot, as it was hidden by the
column. The parking attendant told me that this happens all the time and that the
company that owns the lot
has yet to fix it. What can I
do to get compensated for
the expensive repairs to my
car caused as a result of the
You don’t recognize the contest you’ve
The only sweepstakes you can win are the ones
that you enter. This why it makes sense to organize
your sweepstakes entries; when you receive a notification, you can easily check to make sure that you
You receive a large check with
To fool people into thinking that a sweepstakes
scam is legitimate, many con artists send counterfeit
checks along with their phony win notifications.
Cashing fraudulent checks is a crime, and you could
be liable for fines and even undergo closure of your
bank account, as well as losing any money you wire.
Legitimate sweepstakes require affidavits before
sending out any prize valued at more than $600.
You are instructed to wire money.
Criminals love to use services such as Western
Union to receive illicit funds, because it is nearly
impossible to trace who received the money. Western
Union transfers are handled like cash, and it is very
difficult to get back any money that you send to con
artists in this way.
In order to protect
yourself from lottery or
sweepstakes scams as well
as e-mail scams, do not
send any money or pay
any fee to claim a prize or
lottery winnings. Do not
open suspicious or unsolicited e-mails (spam). Never
reply to a spam e-mail, even
to unsubscribe. Never call a
telephone number that you
see in a spam e-mail. Do not
click on any links in a spam
e-mail, or open files attached
Remember: If something looks too good to be
true, it probably is. C
Regardless of any signs that
say the lot company is not
owner of the
garage is responsi-
ble for what hap-
pens. Call your
and have them
alert the owner’s
pany. Take pictures
of the damage, as well
as where it happened.
Write down detailed
testimony to assist
your insurance com-
pany with this claim.
The parking lot owner
is insured, because
the city requires it.
Therefore, the insurance
should cover the cost of
your repairs. C
You are pressured to act in a hurry.
Sweepstakes scammers have a very good reason
for wanting you to act quickly: They want to ensure
that they receive their money before their check
© 2011 FIGHT BACK! INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
David Horowitz is a leading consumer advocate (
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