Contest Scams

You won something in a contest you don’t even remember entering but and then you’re asked to pay a small fee to collect it. What’s wrong with this picture?

How much did you say that prize will cost me? When you are asked to pay a fee to claim a prize you should think twice before paying. If you’ve thought about it twice and still want to claim that prize perhaps you should sit down, relax and think about it a third time. When you win something it’s completely free or else you haven’t won anything. The only time you might have to pay is on April 15th when you pay your taxes if the prize was big enough.

Let me say it one more time so that we are absolutely clear on the matter: If you win a prize or a sweepstakes or even a lottery and are asked to pay any kind of fee to claim that prize then you should immediately suspect the source.

I don’t even remember entering the contest in the first place

If you are told you won a car but have to pay a fee for processing it, or are told a certain amount of money is needed to register a free trip to Las Vegas with the vacation company or that the merchandise you won is free but it will cost you money to have it shipped, or you won money for a contest you don’t even remember entering, be wary.

Sure, lightning can strike. People do win the lottery but they usually have to buy a lottery ticket first. If you are told you won anything through email you should be extremely suspicious. There will no doubt be all sorts of clues ranging from someone asking you for your address and phone number which you usually submit when you enter contests to requests for credit card numbers or bank routing numbers. Don’t think that only idiots fall for this scam. People fall for this all the time.

If talk of something free turns into a request for your credit card number or banking information it’s probably a scam. Since when did free stuff cost money? Remember that if you’re ever contacted by someone claiming you won a prize or contest or sweepstakes.

Think before you give personal information out

Tip: If you don’t remember entering the sweepstakes someone is saying you’ve won, be suspicious of their intentions. All legitimate sweepstakes and contests will not require you to pay any fees to collect your prize. Most states have mandated that you can’t be forced to make a purchase in order to participate in contests. Anyone asking for personal information they should alread have or that you pay a fee to collect your prize should be considered a scammer. Proceed with caution!

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Joy Newby
9 years ago

Thursday, June 04, 2015 11:28 AM
We signed up for the Indiana Do Not Call List shortly after it was made available. We also signed up for the National Do Not Call List as soon as we could. Still, the number of calls we receive from individuals/entities who are not excluded is astounding.

Today, I happened to overhear my 76 yr old husband talking to someone on the phone who was telling him that he had won $50,000 through Publisher’s Clearinghouse and he was making notes about going to Walmart to buy some type of card.

I immediately took the phone, asking a very heavily accented individual to explain what he was telling my husband. The minute he got to “Mr. Newby needs to go to Walmart to buy” I interrupted him to say I knew he wasn’t from Publisher’s Clearinghouse and that he was attempting to steal money from an elderly person. He then proceeded to argue with me explaining that he was from Publishers’ Clearinghouse and that if we didn’t follow his instructions within a few hours, we were going to lose the prize to someone else.

I explained that I would be reporting him to the Indiana Attorney General’s Office for two issues 1) he was in violation of the Indiana Do Not Call List and 2) he was trying to fraudulently obtain money from an unsuspecting person as well as the Federal Trade Commission.

Now that I am home more often, I am appalled by the number of calls we get with these types of scams as well as DME companies calling (which is an issue I am reporting to the HHS Office of Inspector General).

It is hard enough to see slight mental deterioration in your loved ones as they grow older, but to know that people are out there trying to prey on their vulnerabilities is inexcusable. Something needs to be done, I don’t know what it is, but there should be a way to prosecute these people.

Gilberto R. Lopez
8 years ago

How about this one: I received a letter claiming to have won $50,000.00 from Realex Payments. a division of Global Pyments, that included a very legitimate looking check for $3,650.00 to help “pay the $1450,00 tax amount due”. The scam goes as follows: you are asked to call the number on the letter as soon as you deposit the check. Usually, your bank credits your account right away. Then, you are asked to pay the $1450.00 by using your credit or debit card. The catch is that the check you deposited is a phony, even thought it is drawn on a legitimate bank and the paper shows all the usual security watermarks, etc. Then a few days later, when your bank tries to collect the check, you get a notice from your bank that the check bounced. So, to start, you are out the $1450.00 plus, if you used the rest to pay bills or buy something, then you are in hock for the rest. As the saying goes, if it is too good to be true, it is.