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Watch Out For Prize Scams – So You Don't End Up Losing

The announcement comes via regular mail, email or a phone call.

You’ve won a big prize, and now it’s time to collect your money.

All you have to do to claim the cash is pay a processing fee by supplying your credit card number, checking account number, or other personal information, such as your Social Security number. You might even be asked to wire money to a specific bank account before your winnings can be sent.

Don’t do it! It’s probably a scam.

These scams play on our desire to get something for nearly nothing - but instead of being a ‘winner’ you could quickly find yourself on the losing end.

The crooks contacting you are after your money or personal information that could help them illegally open a new account or other things under your name. They could even be selling that information to others.

Here are some things that should set off warning bells:

  • You’re told you’ve won a large sum of money or a prize, but you can’t remember entering the contest.
  • You have to pay money to claim your prize – this is a sure sign of fraud.
  • They ask for personal information, such as account numbers.
  • The email you get requires you to download a file or has links to a site that asks you to provide account numbers or other information. This is a surefire way to expose yourself to identity theft or fraud.

Here’s the bottom line: Always be on the lookout for prize scams. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.