Lottery scams are frequent go-to’s for scammers, and they cash in on numerous victims. Let’s take a look at lottery scams and how to avoid falling victim.
How the scams play out
In a typical lottery scam, the victim is notified they’ve won a lottery. They may be contacted by mail, phone, text or by social media. The allegedly won prize can be a pile of cash to the tune of millions, a tropical vacation or even expensive electronic devices.
Here’s where things get tricky. To claim the prize, the victim is told they must pay a “processing fee,” but the money can only be wired to a bank account or furnished via prepaid debit card. If the victim pays the fee, the scammer will continue collecting these fees and stalling over the delivery of the prize.
In other variations of the scam, the target is asked to call a phone number or click on a link to claim the prize. They’ll then be instructed to provide personal information, such as their Social Security number or checking account info. Unfortunately, this information will make the victim vulnerable to identity theft.
To avoid falling prey to a lottery scam, look out for these red flags:
- You’ve been notified you’ve won a lottery you’ve never entered.
- The lottery you’ve allegedly won was drawn overseas.
- The email, text message or social media alert informing you of your win is riddled with grammar mistakes and typos.
- You are warned to keep your “win” confidential.
- You’re asked to pay a fee to collect your winnings.
- You’re asked to share confidential information over the phone or online to claim your prize.
- You’re instructed to call a specific number or click on a link in order to verify your prize.
If you’ve been targeted
If you believe you’ve been targeted and/or victimized by a lottery scam, take quick action to protect yourself from further harm. Contact the Federal Trade Commission at FTC.gov to let them know about it. If you’ve already shared information and/or money, contact your local law enforcement agencies for assistance and visit the FTC’s page on identity theft to start the recovery process.
Play it safe!