We have a scam alert to pass along. The Better Business Bureau reports that scammers are trying to steal thousands from you in a sweepstakes scam hitting our area.
To avoid falling victim to a sweepstakes scam, below are some things to watch out for:
1.) You can’t win a contest you didn’t enter. You need to buy a ticket or complete an application to participate in a contest or lottery. Whether it’s by phone or mail, scammers seek out their targets. Verify that it is a legitimate business by doing research on the company.
2.) You are offered "too-good-to-be-true" prizes. It is almost always a large sum of money, but there is always a catch. Scammers attempt to make it sound easy to claim your prize. The reality is it is very unlikely that someone will give away large sums of money with no strings attached.
3.) You have to give personal information. Anytime someone tries to get your bank account number, Social Security number or other sensitive information, that should be an automatic red flag. There is also no need to access financial information like a credit card number in response to a sweepstakes promotion.
4.) You have to pay to win. Don’t be blinded by the promise of a large sum of money in the future. If they are asking you to give them money first, that’s a red flag. According to the Federal Trade Commission, it’s illegal to ask you to pay or buy something to enter or increase your odds of winning. Legitimate prizes do not come with processing fees, and taxes are paid directly to the Internal Revenue Service after winnings are collected.
5.) You have to wire money or use prepaid debit cards. If you are asked to use these transfer methods in order to get a prize or any other large sum of money, that is a major red flag. It’s difficult to track these types of transactions, so you will have little to no way of getting your money back.
Alyson Bruner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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