Stay Alert! Watch out for prize scams

Scammers look for any way they can to convince you to do what they want. One of their tactics is to tell you you've won a prize, hoping that your excitement will overshadow your common sense. Don't fall for it! Remember, if you have to pay anything in time or money, it's not a real prize. Here are just a few examples of what you might be asked to do to claim your "prize."

  •  Pay a fee
  • Wire money
  • Deposit a check sent to you
  • Attend a sales meeting
  • Speak with a "representative" on the phone

In order to win a contest, you must have entered. So if the source of the prize doesn't sound familiar to you, that's another red flag. There are rules that must be followed for real contests. For example, it's illegal to ask you to pay or buy something to enter or increase your odds of winning. Additionally, contest operators are required to tell you the odds of winning, the value of the prizes, the cost to enter (which should be free), and other terms and conditions.

Steer clear of "contest operators" that don't follow the rules and, if you're not sure, do an online search for the name of the operator plus the word "scam."

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