Prize Scam on the Rise, Business Bureau Warns
An email or text message claiming youʻve won millions of dollars may seem like good news, but as the Better Business Bureau warns, it could be the face of a rising scam.
The BBB is seeing a 30 percent increase in reports filed about the Publisherʻs Clearing House con.
Scammers posing as the Publisherʻs Clearing House are sending out text messages and emails congratulating people for winning a high amount of money or another high value prize.
“You’ve won – a new car! Millions of dollars! Cash for life! The crazy thing is, you don’t even recall entering the contest. It’s a con that plays on our desire to “get rich quick” and, all too often, it works,” the BBB wrote in a press release.
According to the BBB, the correspondence seems legitimate because it is complete with official seals and contact information for the contest organizer.
However, the scammers also require that the “winners” pay for shipping and handling, insurance, taxes, and other fees before claiming a prize.
“A few thousand dollars may not sound like much compared to the millions you’ve just won. However, con artists keep asking you, the “lucky winner,” to pay again and again. But it’s never enough to get the funds transferred. Of course, in the end, your prize money never existed,” the BBB wrote.
The real Publishers Clearing House is a BBB Accredited Business that never asks people to pay upfront fees for anything. According to the BBB, scammers frequently mimic the company because of its reputation for real prizes.
“Like most imposter scams, the con artists steal the good name of a legitimate company in order to fool their targets,” the BBB wrote.
Here is a list of tips from the BBB to avoid the scam:
- Be wary of unsolicited correspondence. If you receive a notice out of the blue and can’t recall entering the contest, it’s likely a scam. Look for typos and misspellings. They are tell-tale signs of a scam.
- Never pay fees to claim a prize. You should never have to pay any fees upfront before receiving winnings. Not even taxes.
- Keep track of any contests you enter. You can’t win a contest you didn’t enter. If you often enter contests and sweepstakes, keep track of them. This will help you spot a fake contest.
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