BBB: Protect yourself from sweepstakes fraud

Sweepstakes and phone fraud. (WDTN Photo)
(WDTN Photo)

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – How many times do you get a phone call or a letter that says you won a million dollars?

If it seems too good to be true, it probably is, but you need to protect yourself.

According to the National Consumer League, lottery and sweepstakes schemes rank number three on their list of top scams in 2013.

The Better Business Bureau receives many calls from people who believe they won lotteries or sweepstakes they’ve never entered. Unfortunately, many learn there’s no such jackpot.

John North, of the Dayton BBB, says a lottery or sweepstakes con begins with an e-mail, letter or text message usually from an overseas company.

It will advise you that you’ve won an amount of money or prize in a lottery or sweepstakes you didn’t enter.

The message you receive will ask you to respond quickly or risk missing out on the prize or money.

They often also urge you to keep quiet about your win and you are asked to pay some fee to release your winnings.

Sometimes, they actually do send a check for part of your winnings.

This check will eventually bounce leaving you out the money you sent and paying any fees charged by your bank for the bad check and overdrafts.

To avoid becoming a victim, the BBB suggests:

Remember, you can’t win a contest you didn’t enter.

Avoid too-good-to-be true prizes

Never give out your personal information (credit card numbers, bank account information or social security numbers) to strangers

Avoid clicking on links in emails or text messages from unfamiliar people or organizations

Never wire money or pay with prepaid debit cards

Keep in mind, prizes are free. No taxes or fees should have to be paid prior to receiving the prize.
And, people can always turn to your organization for help, right?

When you’re looking to do business, make sure it’s with BBB Accredited businesses or charities. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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