12 Things About Sweepstakes Scams
Who wouldn’t like to win tens of thousands of cash, if not millions, or the chance to take a posh vacation? There are a lot of legitimate sweepstakes and contests available, and the chance to win a sizable prize can be very alluring. Since legitimate Cashapp money transfer are well aware of this, they use it to their advantage by preying on your desire to receive that sizable check or embark on your ideal vacation. Lotteries and sweepstakes-related scams have been around for a while and are still prevalent. 12 Things About Sweepstakes Scams
Scams involving sweepstakes demand money in exchange for prizes
Do you need to pay money to claim your prize according to your notification? If that’s the case, you’re probably dealing with a con. You will never be required to pay a charge to enter a contest or to receive a reward in a legitimate sweepstakes.
Scammers may claim that you must pay for the following before they will deliver your prize:
- Sweepstakes taxes
- Customs fees
- Handling charges or shipping fees
- Service fees
- Any other charges
However, you never have to pay upfront to receive a legitimate prize. Sweepstakes taxes are paid directly to the IRS along with your regular tax return.
Except for rare exceptions, such as port fees for a cruise prize or a nominal amount for hotel taxes, anyone who asks you to pay taxes on prizes directly to them instead of to the IRS is running a scam.
Scammers of sweepstakes use free email accounts
Check the email address that issued the notification if you get one if you win. Be cautious if it comes from a free email account, such as Gmail or Yahoo Mail; it could be a red flag of a hoax.
There are a few extremely small businesses who genuinely inform winners using a free email account, but not many. The majority of legitimate businesses have them now because there are so many ways to obtain email addresses that are relevant to your industry.
Business email accounts are absolutely necessary for large businesses. You may be certain that you are dealing with a sweepstakes scam if you receive a win notification purporting to be from a business like Publishers Clearing House or Microsoft yet the email originated from a free account.
Also, be wary of email addresses that look close to, but not the same as, those from official companies. Like “[email protected]” might look OK until you notice that the official company has an “s” after “publisher”.
Sometimes scam artists will spoof the email address so that it looks like it’s coming from a legitimate company, even when it’s not. Stay alert for phishing emails. 12 Things About Sweepstakes Scams
Scams in sweepstakes that claim you’ve won competitions You Did Not Enter
Every sweepstakes you participate might slip your mind, but if it seems utterly out of the ordinary to you, it’s undoubtedly a hoax.
You can only win sweepstakes that you have entered. It’s a warning sign if you get a win notification from a contest that you don’t recall entering.
It’s likely that you entered and promptly forgot about it, or that you utilized an approach that was simple to miss, such scanning your membership card from the grocery shop. But take the time to conduct further research before you answer.
Finding the sweepstakes sponsor’s phone number and calling to confirm that you won is another approach to ensure that your prize win is legitimate.
However, don’t use a telephone number from your suspicious win notification. Get a legitimate number from another source, like a phone book or the company’s official website.
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Large Checks Are Sent Along With Your Notifications In Sweepstakes Scams
You can be certain that you’ve won if your win notification includes a check as your prize. Wrong. If the check is for more than $600, you are undoubtedly the victim of fraud.
Scammers distribute fake cheques along with their false win announcements in order to lead victims to believe that sweepstakes frauds are real. An example of this is a bogus check fraud.
False checks are risky in several ways: Not only do you not receive the money from the check, but it is also illegal to cash a fake check. You risk paying fines and perhaps having your bank account closed if you deposit the check. Finally, any money you transfer to the con artists will be lost.
Remember, legitimate sweepstakes must send affidavits before sending out prizes worth over $600.
Hackers in Sweepstakes Ask You to Wire Money
Does the notification of your win contain instructions on how to send money to the sponsor? Run if this is the case. There is no need to use a wire service, not even in the limited legal situations where you must pay a sponsor money.
Because it is so difficult to determine who received the money, criminals use services like Western Union to accept illicit monies. Western Union transfers are treated like currency, so fraudsters can just pick them up and run. Any money you sent is now gone, so good-bye.
Another twist on this sweepstakes scam signal: con artists are now asking their victims to buy Green Dot Money Pack cards from retailers like Walmart. These cards let you transfer money by simply giving the recipient the numbers printed on the card. Once you’ve done that, there’s little to no chance of getting your money back.
Sweepstakes scams force you to act quickly.
Do you have a deadline to respond to your winning notification or risk losing the chance to claim your prize? If so, proceed with caution.
In order to get your money before your check bounces or before you read an article like this one and know you are being scammed, sweepstakes scammers want you to act swiftly.
In certain circumstances where it is appropriate, a sponsor may demand a timely answer. For instance, if the prize contains tickets to a play this weekend, they can need you to use them right immediately, in which case the tickets won’t be valid.
But you should always have at least a few hours to investigate the notification. And if there’s no good reason for a rush to accept a prize, then it’s probably a sweepstakes scam.
Sweepstakes Scams Ask for Bank or Credit Cards to Receive Your Prize
Does receiving your reward require you to validate your credit card or bank account information? This is blatant evidence of a sweepstakes fraud.
Legitimate sweepstakes don’t require your credit card number for information verification, don’t distribute rewards by direct deposit, and don’t need to take money out of your account. Your social security number is the only private data a trustworthy sweepstakes sponsor requires to handle your win.
You should never provide your bank account or credit card details if someone asks you to, as this is a clear indication that they are running a sweepstakes scam.
The lottery awarded the “Win” (Especially a Foreign Lottery)
Have you been notified that you have won a lottery prize? Maybe the Heineken Lottery, the Microsoft Lottery, or Euro Millions? If so, try not to get too excited because it’s probably a fraud.
Without purchasing a ticket, it is not possible to win the lottery. Even if you purchased tickets, the lottery would not contact you by phone or email. You would need to look up the winning numbers online, on TV, or in a newspaper before comparing them to your ticket.
Even more suspect are win notifications from overseas lotteries. Along with having the same limitations as domestic lotteries, selling tickets for overseas lotteries across international borders is also prohibited.
Therefore, unless you bought a ticket while you were actually in a foreign country, prize notifications from foreign lotteries are fraudulent.
Sweepstakes Scams Don’t Know Your Nam
Does your win notification address you by a generic title like “Dear Winner” or “Dear Sir”? If so, this is a strong warning sign.
Many sweepstakes scams send thousands upon thousands of fake mails or emails to every address they can get their hands on, often without knowing any personal information about the people they’re contacting.
On the other hand, legitimate sweepstakes already have your entry information from the entry form. Most of the time, this includes your name, and they’d use that name when they contact you.
It’s possible that a small company that’s giving away a lot of prizes might not customize their notification letters, but it’s pretty unlikely. So if this happens to you, be sure to research your prize carefully before proceeding.
Sweepstakes Scams Pose As Government Organizations
To appear more legitimate, some sweepstakes scams pretend to come from government organizations such as the FTC or the “National Sweepstakes Board” (which doesn’t actually exist).
Real sweepstakes sponsors send their win notifications directly to the winners. Government organizations are not involved in awarding sweepstakes prizes, nor do federal marshals hand out the prizes.
If you’re not dealing directly with a company sponsoring or administrating the giveaway, you’re being scammed.
Sweepstakes Scam Notifications Arrive by Bulk Mail
Take a look at the envelope that contained your win notification. Does it have first-class postage? If not, that’s a bad sign.
When legitimate sweepstakes sponsors send out win notifications, they use first class postage or services such as FedEx or UPS to deliver them.
Sweepstakes scam artists, on the other hand, want to target the most people at the least cost in order to keep their profits high. They lower their costs by using bulk mail for their mailings.
Any win notification that arrives by bulk mail should be treated with a great deal of suspicion
Sweepstakes Scams Contain Typos
Scan your win notification. Do you notice bad grammar, missing words, or spelling mistakes? These are red flags for a scam.
Any company can make a minor mistake when typing out a win notification. However, multiple or glaring errors are a bad sign.
Many sweepstakes scams originate outside of the United States and Canada, and the people who write the scam letters are often not proficient in English.
Be very cautious of any win notices that have a lot of errors, use strange or stilted language, and otherwise sound “off.”
Don’t Miss Out on Legitimate Wins, Though!
Although it’s imperative to know and recognize the warning signs that you’re being scammed, you also don’t want to miss out on any real wins.
Some common aspects of claiming prizes that might seem unusual — but are actually legitimate, even expected. 12 Things About Sweepstakes Scams