In the recent weeks, we have seen an increase in advertising for sweepstakes and lotteries. it is probably a good time to be reminded of some of the precautions......

  • Be skeptical. If someone tells you that you have won a prize or contest you didn't enter, it's probably a scam.
  • Never send money to anyone who says you've won a prize. This includes people you've exchanged emails or letters with, as well as telemarketers. It's illegal to have to pay anything upfront to win a prize. Any prize that requires you to send money to cover taxes or other costs first is a scam. Don't be fooled if they send a check to cover taxes and fees. The check is fake.
  • Protect your personal information. Never give out your social security number, bank account or credit card number in order to win a prize. It's illegal to offer lottery tickets over the phone or through the mail. telemarketers who pitch lottery tickets are trying to cheat you.
  • Buying something does not improve your chances of winning. Sweepstakes offers make it sound like you have to buy something in order to win, but you don't. You have an equal chance of winning whether you buy anything or not.
  • Read the fine print. Don't let words like "finalist" or "congratulations" fool you. Read the entire mailing, including any fine print that may include conditions or qualifications. If you are unsure what the wording means or if it sounds too good to be true, run it by a friend or family member, or check with the Attorney General's Office.
  • Check the postage. "Bulk rate" or "presorted first class" means the mailing has gone to hundreds of people, even if it tells you your're a finalist or specially selected to win.
  • Look at the odds of winning. If you read that "awards and odds are: $15,000 (1:4,000,000)," that means your odds of winning are 1 in 4 million. That means your chances of winning are very, very slim, just like everyone else's.
  • Watch out for senior friends and relatives. Lottery and sweepstakes scams often target seniors. Getting lot of calls or sweepstakes mailings can be a sign that someone has become a victim because mailing and call lists are often sold to other solicitors. Frequent trips to wire money can also be a sign that someone has been scammed.