Consumers in Utah frequently contact the Better BusinessBureau regarding the authenticity of an email,letter or phone call announcing they’ve won a substantial sum of money. As St.Patrick’s Day draws near, BetterBusiness Bureau reminds consumers to be cautious of claimsthey’ve won a pot of gold.
Scammers use major holidays, big events and disastersas an opportunity to target consumers and lure them into scams. Sweepstakesscams are so popular because they play on consumer’s emotions and dreams offinancial freedom. Red flags to watch for when receiving a winning offerover the phone, through email or in the mail:
· You don’t remember entering a contest.
· It asks for detailed personal information.
· You are asked to forward a portion of yourwinnings received back to the sender or to another company to pay for taxes, shippingfees, etc.
· The name on the check does not match thename of the company you are dealing with.
· The lottery application or announcementcomes via telephone or mail from outside the country (which includes the 876area code, which is Jamaica).
To help consumers identify a sweepstakes scam, BBBoffers the following advice:
- Check out the business. Go to bbb.org to check out details about the company making the offer, and see if there are any complaints filed against the business.
- Don't pay to collect winnings. According to the Deceptive Mail Prevention and Enforcement Act, if you have won something, you should not have to pay a penny or purchase anything to receive it.
- Verify that the check is legitimate. Call the financial institution directly to verify that the check will draw from an actual account. Do not use the money until the funds have been collected by your financial institution (the bank has to release the money to you within 3 days, that does not mean the check is good!). It is a red flag if the company name on the check does not match the name of the business writing the letter.
- Did you receive this notification via bulk rate mail? According to the Federal Trade Commission, it is highly unlikely that you’ve won a big prize if your notification was mailed by bulk rate.
- Be cautious of look-alikes. Scammers often use names of government agencies and well-known organizations to try to confuse you and give you the confidence in the winning claim.
Report it. If youthink the offer is a scam, reportit to the BBB so we can alert others!