Today TaxMama hears from Roki in Michigan, who wants to know. “I have people calling me telling me I won sweepstakes. But the thing is they say that I have to pay a sum to get my winnings. Is that true or a scam? Also what is the best way to find out if it’s a scam or not?”
That’s an interesting question. And while it’s not a tax question, the practice is disturbing. So let me try to answer you.
Frankly, you must know they can’t possibly be true, or you wouldn’t be asking me. Anyone that asks you to pay any money in order to collect your winnings is a scam. When you look at real sweepstakes, like the Publishers Clearinghouse, or Readers Digest – when they tell you’ve won, you simply get the prize.
How else can you tell it’s a scam? Ask them for a return phone number and their mailing address. Odds are,
they won’t give you their phone number. And I’ll bet it doesn’t show up on your caller ID, either.
When a stranger calls you on the phone about anything – be sure NOT to give them any information about yourself. Do not give them your address, or your phone number. After all, they called you. And never, ever, ever, give them your Social Security Number or bank account.
If they do give you a phone number or address, put that information into your favorite search engine. the e-mail address, or the name of the sweepstakes, or the name of the person calling you. Most likely, you’ll find some results talking about the scam. Do the same kind of thing if you get an e-mail.
You can find more information on the Federal Trade Commission’s website. It also includes a link to report the fraud. http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/phonefraud/sweepstakes.shtml .
You’ll find some more tips and info on how to get on the do-not-call registry at www.scambusters.com http://www.scambusters.org/do-not-call-list.html .
Personally, when I get calls like that, I don’t even get sucked into the conversation. I simply hang up. It avoids conflict – and theft.
And remember, you can find answers to all kinds of questions about scams and other tax issues, free. Where? Where else? At TaxMama.com.[Note: If you were subscribed to the e-mailed TaxQuips, you’d be getting other exciting news and tips by e-mail, that never appear on the site. Please click on the subscribe link and join us.]
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- FTC site :: Sweepstakes scams
- Scambusters :: do-not-call-list and phone scams