Beware and Avoid Unexpected (Fake) Prize, Sweepstakes, and Lottery Scams

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You open your mailbox or inbox to find a letter, email, or text message announcing that you've hit the jackpot, winning the lottery. Some even receive an enticing check, claiming it's a portion of your winnings. The message confidently declares that all you need to do is cover some processing fees or taxes and provide proof of your identity, and then the jackpot is yours. 

It appears almost too good to be true. But, unfortunately, that's exactly what it is—too good to be true. 

What you're actually witnessing is the initial contact in a lottery scam. Its sole purpose is not to deliver the promised fortune but rather to siphon off your hard-earned money or steal your personal information. 

Every year, thousands of individuals fall prey to these schemes, and scammers continuously refine their tactics to appear new and enticing, all with the aim of deceiving people just like you. The good news is there are some things you can do to help protect yourself from falling victim to a scam.

Signs or Red Flags of a Scam Communication:

* You have to pay to get your prize. But 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. And 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 who the money went to. And it’s almost impossible to get your money back.

Scammers pressure you to act now to get a prize. Scammers want you to hurry up and pay or give them information. They tell you it’s a limited-time offer or you have to “act now” to claim your prize. They don’t want you to have time to evaluate what’s really happening. Don’t be rushed — especially if they want you to do something to get your prize.

* 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. Only a scammer will do that.

Here are 7 tips in order to avoid the risk of getting scammed:

* Conduct due diligence. If you’re not sure about a contest or the company sending you a prize notification, search online to see if you find anything about them. Type the name with terms like “review,” “complaint,” or “scam.”

* Look carefully at the envelopes of purported sweepstakes mailers. If your entry form or congratulations letter was sent bulk rate, it means a lot of other people got the same mailing. 

* Do hang up on cold calls claiming to be from well-known offices like the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO). They will not call you out of the blue to tell you you've won. 

* Always read the fine print on a contest form and make sure it isn’t missing legally required information such as the start and end dates of the contest, the methods of entry, descriptions of prizes, and various legal disclaimers. If that stuff isn’t there, something is fishy. 

* Carefully check for your odds of winning, and be especially leery of contests that don't disclose it. 

* Beware of your own eagerness. A survey found that those who reported a high willingness to take risks were three times more likely to become victims of fraudulent prize promotions than those with a low willingness.

* Never hand over your personal information. If the correspondence starts asking for personal information, this should be your first clue that it might be a scam. Never provide your personal and banking information to people or businesses you don’t know. 

Lastly, consider calling for help. If you fear you have been scammed, don’t wait to find out – take action immediately. If you believe you have been a victim of fraud, the PNP ACG has opened its hotlines at (02) 8414-1560 or 0998-598-8116 or via email at The law enforcement agency encourages everyone to report incidents of scams, fraud, and cybercrime.

If you like this post, please do share it on social media like Facebook, Twitter or any other site that you like (of course with a credit link back to this blog post). 

Beware and Avoid Unexpected (Fake) Prize, Sweepstakes, and Lottery Scams Beware and Avoid Unexpected (Fake) Prize, Sweepstakes, and Lottery Scams Reviewed by Vernon Joseph Go on Friday, September 15, 2023 Rating: 5

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