Lotto fever has set in and with the Powerball jackpot being worth more than a billion dollars people are buying tickets with the hope of being instant millionaires; but the scammers see millions of potential victims, warns the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
Even when there isn’t a record breaking lottery game the BBB is contacted almost daily by consumers who have received scam lottery letters, emails, and phone calls claiming they’re a winner.
“This time, however, the hopes and dreams of being a winner play right into the hands or scam artists,” says Steve J. Bernas, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. “Scammers follow the headlines and with Wednesday’s Powerball drawing being a record prize this is an opportunity for scammers that’s too great for them to pass up.”
Bernas notes, “It’s predictable they come out of the woodwork whenever there is an opportunity to rip someone off, natural disasters, or national tragedies, you name it they’ll find a way to work it.”
“Despite our warnings many of the callers still believe the letters and checks, emails and calls are real” explains Bernas. “For those who fall victim to lottery scams, the losses can be substantial, usually around three to five thousand dollars.
There are red flags to watch out for:
If you’re told you’ve won a lottery you don’t remember entering.
Receiving calls from a lottery or government agency saying you’ve won millions.
Receiving an unexpected check or even many thousands of dollars.
If you have to pay a fee to collect your winnings.
If you have to send money via wire transfer or prepaid card.
If you are told you won a foreign lottery-they are illegal.
Lottery Scam Prevention Tips:
Be very skeptical of anyone who calls you and says you’ve won the lottery.
Don’t wire money or pay a fee to receive your winnings.
Don’t give out your personal or financial information especially to anyone contacting you by phone or email.
Don’t return calls to out an out-of-country phone number in connection with a lottery or sweepstake win.
Don’t cash unexpected checks…they are most likely part of a scam.
Contact BBB Scamtracker to report the scam www.bbb.org/scamtracker/us/
For more information on scams, visit www.bbb.org/chicago, like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter or add us on Pinterest.
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