Don’t Let Sweepstakes Scammers Steal Your Holiday Money 

Courtesy of the Better Business Bureau

Winning a new car, cash or even a lavish vacation may sound great, but only if it’s a legitimate prize from a legitimate contest. Last week, 15 bogus sweepstakes/lottery/prizes incidents were reported to BBB serving Central East Texas (BBB) via BBB Scam Tracker. The con artists, who claim to be Publisher’s Clearing House (PCH) representatives trick you into thinking you’ve won a prize, however, to claim your winnings, you must first pay taxes, shipping costs, or other “fees”.  BBB reminds consumers that PCH does not require winners to pay upfront fees and reminds consumers to be on the lookout for phony sweepstakes and lotteries who want nothing more than to take your money and run.

“The last thing you want to do this holiday season”, said Mechele Agbayani Mills, President and CEO of BBB serving Central East Texas. “Is to give your hard-earned dollars to a scam artist.”

BBB offers the following tips for sweepstakes and lottery scams:

  • You can’t win a contest you didn’t enter.A notification that you have won a prize in a contest you do not remember entering should be a red flag. If you do regularly enter contests or sweepstakes, make sure you keep track of your entries so you can easily check to see if you have actually entered a contest that contacts you.
  • Never pay upfront fees. No legitimate sweepstakes company will ever ask you to pay a fee or buy something to enter or improve your chances of winning by including paying “taxes,” “shipping and handling charges” or “processing fees” to get your prize. Never wire money or send funds via unconventional payment methods (gift cards, prepaid cards, etc.) to anyone you have never met.
  • You must play to win. A notification that you have won a prize in a contest you do not remember entering should be a red flag. If you do regularly enter contests or sweepstakes, make sure you keep track of your entries so you can easily check to see if you have actually entered a contest that contacts you.
  • Shred the check. Keep in mind that if you deposit a bogus check or money order into your account, you could be held responsible for any money you spend or send to anyone else once your financial institution confirms that the check or money order is counterfeit.

Publishers Clearing House (PCH) reports that they do not call anyone to…

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