Last Updated on by SCARS Editorial Team

SCARSSCARS SCARS - Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Inc. A government registered crime victims' assistance & crime prevention nonprofit organization based in Miami, Florida, U.S.A. SCARS supports the victims of scams worldwide and through its partners in more than 60 countries around the world. Incorporated in 2015, its team has 30 years of continuous experience educating and supporting scam victims. Visit www.AgainstScams.org to learn more about SCARS.™ Special Report: Prize & Sweepstakes ScamsSweepstakes Scams These scams involve someone claiming you won a prize. However, they say you must pay a fee or provide sensitive banking information in order to get it. They keep the money, and you get nothing for it.

You’ve just won $5,000! Or $5 million. Or maybe it’s a fabulous diamond ring, or luxury vacation? More likely, it’s a prize scamPrize Scam These scams involve someone claiming you won a prize. However, they say you must pay a fee or provide sensitive banking information in order to get it. They keep the money, and you get nothing for it., and you’ll find the prize isn’t worth much — if you get a prize at all. Here’s one way to think about it: if you have to pay, it’s not a prize.

About Contests and Prizes

Who doesn’t want to win something? But before you drop in a quick entry or follow instructions to claim a prize, here are a few things to know:

Legitimate Sweepstakes Are Free And By Chance

It’s illegal to ask you to pay or buy something to enter or increase your odds of winning.

Prize Promoters Might Sell Your Information To Advertisers

When you sign up for a contest or drawing, you probably will get more promotional mail, telemarketing calls, or spam email instead of a prize.

Prize Promoters Have To Tell You Certain Things

Telemarketers are legally required to tell you the odds of winning, the nature or value of the prizes, that entering is free, and the terms and conditions to redeem a prize. Sweepstakes mailings also must tell you that you don’t have to pay to participate. They also can’t claim that you’re a winner unless you’ve actually won a prize. And they’re not legally permitted to include fake checks that don’t clearly state they’re non-negotiable and have no cash value.

Signs of a Prize Scam

Plenty of contests are run by reputable marketers and non-profits. But every day, people lose thousands of dollars to prize scamsPrize Scams These scams involve someone claiming you won a prize. However, they say you must pay a fee or provide sensitive banking information in order to get it. They keep the money, and you get nothing for it.. Here are some signs you’re dealing with a scamScam A Scam is a confidence trick - a crime -  is an attempt to defraud a person or group after first gaining their trust through deception. Scams or confidence tricks exploit victims using their credulity, naïveté, compassion, vanity, irresponsibility, or greed and exploiting that. Researchers have defined confidence tricks as "a distinctive species of fraudulent conduct ... intending to further voluntary exchanges that are not mutually beneficial", as they "benefit con operators ('con men' - criminals) at the expense of their victims (the 'marks')". A scam is a crime even if no money was lost.:

You Have To Pay

Legitimate sweepstakes don’t make you pay a fee or buy something to enter or improve your chances of winning — that includes paying “taxes,” “shipping and handling charges,” or “processing fees” to get your prize. There’s also no reason to give someone your checking account number or credit card number in response to a sweepstakes promotion.

A skills contest where you do things like solve problems or answer questions correctly can ask you to pay. But these contests also tend to get more difficult and expensive as you advance, leaving contestants with nothing to show for their money and effort.

You Have To Wire Money

You may be told to wire money to an agent of “Lloyd’s of London” or another well-known company — often in a foreign country — to “insure” delivery of the prize. Don’t do it. Wiring money is like sending cash: once it’s gone, you can’t trace it or get it back. The same goes for sending a check or money order by overnight delivery or courier, or putting money on a prepaid debit card.

You Have To Deposit A Check They’ve Sent To You

When you do, they’ll ask you to wire a portion of the money back. The check will turn out to be a fake, and you will owe the bank any money you withdrew.

You’Re Told They’re From The Government — Or Another Organization With A Name That Sounds Official

They might say they’re from an agency like the Federal Trade Commission and are informing you that you’ve won a federally supervised lottery or sweepstakes. Or they might use an official-sounding name like “the national consumer protection agency” or the non-existent “National Sweepstakes Bureau.” But they’re imposters. The FTCFTC The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is an independent agency of the United States government whose principal mission is the enforcement of civil (non-criminal) U.S. antitrust law and the promotion of consumer protection. The FTC can also act as a clearinghouse for criminal reports sent to other agencies for investigation and prosecution. To learn more visit www.FTC.gov or to report fraud visit ReportFraud.FTC.gov doesn’t oversee sweepstakes, and no federal government agency or legitimate sweepstakes company will contact you to ask for money so you can claim a prize.

Other scammers might pretend to be a company like Publishers Clearing House or Reader’s Digest, which run legitimate sweepstakes. Look for signs of a scam, but if you’re still unsure, contact the real companies to find out the truth.

Your “Notice” Was Mailed By Bulk Rate Postage

It’s not likely you’ve won a big prize if your notification was mailed by bulk rate. Other people got the same notice, too. Check the postmark on the envelope or postcard. Do you even remember entering? If not, odds are you didn’t.

You Have To Attend A Sales Meeting To Win

If you agree to attend, you’re likely to endure a high-pressure sales pitch. In fact, any pressure to “act now” before you miss out on a