HOW TO TELL IF THE SWEEPSTAKES IS A FRAUD
There are a number of telemarketing companies conducting legitimate sweepstakes and businesses. However, if a caller asks you to do any of the following, it is probably a scam and you should hang up!
PAY A FEE UP FRONT
Many times it is explained to be a refundable deposit, to prepay taxes or cover shipping costs. Or they ask that you purchase their products or services in order to be eligible to receive a prize. In a legitimate contest or sweepstakes, you don't have to pay anything up front. If you have won a prize, the contest promoter should cover the delivery charges, and if the prize is cash, the promoter will withhold the taxes and or report the winnings to the IRS. And you are not required to purchase anything to be eligible to win. NEVER PAY MONEY UP FRONT TO COLLECT A PRIZE!
GIVE A CREDIT CARD NUMBER -- Legitimate sweepstakes do not require that you do this to establish your eligibility. You should never give your credit card number over the phone to a stranger, because this can result in unauthorized charges to your account. NEVER GIVE YOUR CREDIT CARD NUMBER OVER THE PHONE!
ACT IMMEDIATELY -- You may be pressured by the promoter into acting quickly with little or no time to verify the legitimacy of the contest, or to think about your actions. Be particularly suspicious if you are called in the evening or on weekends. NEVER ALLOW YOURSELF TO BE PRESSURED INTO A DECISION!
HOW TO TELL IF SOMEONE MAY BE A TARGET OF TELEMARKETING FRAUD --The person receives lots of junk mail for contests, free trips, or other prizes or sweepstakes. The person gets frequent calls from people offering valuable awards, great money-making opportunities, or charitable donations.
- The person suddenly has acquired a quantity of cheap items such as costume jewelry, watches, pen and pencils, small appliances, beauty products, water filters, vitamins, or other products that they purchase in order to "win" a prize, or that they received as so-called "valuable prizes."
- The person has written numerous checks or made large withdrawals for escalating amounts of money to unfamiliar individuals or out-of-state companies.
- The person begins to act very secretively about phone calls.
- The person is having payments picked up by private courier services, or wires money to companies.
- The person is having sudden problems paying bills or buying food or other necessities.