You receive a letter, postcard, e-mail or
telephone call announcing that you’ve won a prize in a
sweepstakes, contest or foreign lottery, even
though you don’t remember entering or competing. The
communication tells you to contact a number or Web site to
claim your cash or prize, where you are asked to supply
personal information, including your social security number,
your bank account information or your credit card
information. You may be asked to wire money to pay for taxes
or other fees to collect your winnings.
In some instances, you may be sent a check for the award
proceeds along with instructions to cash the check and wire
some amount for taxes or other fees.
HOW CAN CONSUMERS PROTECT THEMSELVES?
Do not share personal information with strangers unless
you’re absolutely sure they are reputable professionals. If
you do not remember entering a sweepstakes or contest, be
extremely cautious – if it sounds too good to be true, it
Do your research when considering interaction with any
company or organization. Take advantage of the resources at
Better Business Bureau (513-421-3015 or
www.cincinnati.bbb.org), and make sure this business has
a history of responsible conduct with consumers.
If you become uncomfortable interacting with any
sweepstakes or contest representative on the phone, remember
that you can always hang up and call back later. If their
sweepstakes giveaway or contest prize is legitimate, it will
be there when you call back. Do your research before you
call back or supply any personal information. Ask the
sweepstakes promoter for the name, address, phone number and
other contact information for the sweepstakes promoter.
Do not wire funds in order to claim a prize. If you need
to pay a fee, you did not win anything.
If you have been presented a check to cash and wire funds
back, there’s a good chance that the check is counterfeit.
If you’ve been told that you’ve won a foreign lottery and
need to pay money for taxes or other fees to claim your
prize, take caution. Foreign lotteries are illegal.
HOW TO REPORT IF YOU'VE BEEN A VICTIM
Ohio Attorney General’s office: Many
sweepstakes and contests result in identity theft. Always
monitor your credit card and bank statements, your credit
report and any other financial transactions, and immediately
contact the Ohio Attorney General’s office (800-282-0515) if
you think your identity has been stolen.
Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3): If
you believe you are the victim of an Internet crime, you may
contact the IC3 at www.ic3.gov. The IC3 is a partnership
between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the
National White Collar Crime Center. Complaints submitted to
the IC3 cover an array of cyber crime and fraud schemes.
Better Business Bureau (BBB): You should
also submit a complaint to BBB (513-421-3015 or
www.cincinnati.bbb.org) to report the problem and to
receive assistance with resolving the dispute.
Copyright 2011. Hamilton County Ohio. 138 E. Court Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202.
Information on this site is for informational purposes only and is believed to be true and accurate. This information should not be considered as legal advice and Hamilton County disclaims any liability for errors or omissions. External links to other sites are intended to supplement information on this website and do not have the endorsement of Hamilton County.