Safeguarding Our Customers

Stay Alert – Watch Out for Prize Scams

Watch Out For Charity Scams Who doesn't dream of winning a lot of money or some other type of big prize? That's why scammers still use the promise of a prize to try and steal your money or financial information.

You may get a phone call, email, or letter with the "good news" about a prize. Here's how to tell you've encountered a prize scam instead:
  • You have to pay to get your prize. Real prizes are free (other than the taxes owed to the IRS or state taxing authority). So if someone tells you to pay upfront for "shipping and handling charges" or "processing fees" to get your prize, you're dealing with a scammer. And if they ask you to pay by wiring money, sending cash, or paying with gift cards or cryptocurrency to get your prize, don't do it. Scammers use these payments because it's hard to track the identity of the recipient.

  • You're told that paying increases your odds of winning. Real sweepstakes are free and winning is by chance. It's illegal for someone to ask you to pay to increase your odds of winning. Only a scammer will do that.

  • You have to give your financial information. There's absolutely no reason to ever give your bank account or credit card number to claim any prize or sweepstakes. If they ask for this information, it's a scam.
To try and look official, the scammers may say they're from a government agency such as the fake "National Sweepstakes Bureau" or pretend to be from well-known companies that run real sweepstakes. They may also pressure you to act quickly to claim your prize, since they don't want you to have time to evaluate what's really happening. Scammers push you to hurry up and pay or give them your information. 

If you're not sure about a contest or the company sending you a prize notification, search online to see if you find anything about them. Type the name of the contest or company into your search bar along with terms like "review," "complaint," or "scam." The search results will tell the true story.

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