Don't fall for the sweepstakes scam.

Sep 11, 2014

If it sounds too good to be true...

Fraudsters are getting more and more creative with their swindling methods. We want to help you keep your money safe. Remember to use common sense and think twice before providing personal information or payment to solicitors. As the old saga goes, "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is."

Think you've won the Lottery? Don't become a victim!

It happens like this…you receive an offer by mail to enter a sweepstakes. You could win a computer, a car, a vacation – or lots of money. What do you need to do? Pay a processing or insurance fee. Or increase your chances of winning by making a small purchase. Don’t do it! In a legitimate sweepstakes, you never have to pay a fee or purchase an item to enter or win; this includes being asked to "prepay" taxes or fees.

Of course, some companies do offer legitimate sweepstakes promotions. Here are some things to look for to help determine if it's a legitimate contest that's safe to enter:

  • Rules, including odds of winning; quantity, value, and nature of prize; payment schedule
  • Name of sponsor or mailer, including principal place of business or contact address
  • All terms and conditions, including entry procedures
  • Payment is not required. You never have to pay to play or to collect your prize when the sweepstakes is legitimate.

Online Surveys or Sweepstakes

Some of these survey or sweepstakes offers come in the form of online pop-up ads. Here's the situation. You encounter a pop-up survey ad while you're online. The survey contains questions that seem legitimate. However, at the end of the survey you're asked to provide payment information so that you can claim your "prize." What do you do? Do not provide payment information. Surveys that require prepayment for a prize are often not legitimate and you could end up paying much more than advertised.

For more information about prize scams, check out the Federal Trade Commission’s website or the United States Postal Service’s Preventing Sweepstake Fraud page.