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No Winners in Prize Scams!

Posted on 06/02/17 by Leah Miller, AARP Blog Author

There are plenty of reputable contests and sweepstakes out there (including some from AARP). But there are also a lot of bad players looking to bilk you out of your money. Just today South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley released a statement warning consumers that winners of the Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes do not receive phone calls about their prizes.

How it Works:

You’re told you’ve won a prize but:

  • You have to pay a fee to collect your winnings;
  • You have to wire money to a well-known company to insure delivery of the prize;
  • You have to deposit a check they have sent you;
  • Your notice was mailed by bulk rate; or
  • You have to attend a sales meeting to win.

The SD Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division said the most common request of scammers targeting South Dakotans has been money wire transfers or purchase of a pre-paid debit card.

What You Should Know:

You can’t win a contest you didn’t enter. Don’t believe claims that you were automatically entered. Attorney General Jackley adds, “legitimate winners of any kind of sweepstakes are never required to pay monies to receive a prize.”

What You Should Do:
  • Be Vigilant. The Federal Trade Commission recommends looking up a contest or promoter in a search engine with the words “scam” or “complaint”.
  • Report the Crime. The SD Division of Consumer Protection will investigate local fraud claims.  You can file a report at www.consumer.sd.gov or by calling 1-800-300-1986.
  • Warn Others. To prevent others from falling victim to the same scam, you can warn consumers nationwide by filing a report at www.ftc.gov/complaint and sharing your experience on the interactive Fraud Watch Network scam-tracking map.

To avoid becoming a victim, Attorney General Jackley also has the following tips:

  • Be aware that callers can “spoof” the caller ID to make it appear legitimate. This allows the scammer to trick the Caller ID display and make any number of their choosing appear on the screen; it often appears as a local call.
  • If you do answer, get off the phone immediately. These scammers are very good at what they do. The longer you listen, the more likely you will fall victim.
  • If you fall victim and send money, your name and information will likely be added to a list and sold to other scammers. Your scam calls may increase as well as your junk mail.

When it comes to fraud, vigilance is our number one weapon. Help protect yourself and your loved ones from these kinds of scams by sharing this alert.

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