"Hi, I'm calling from the Federal Trade Commission to tell you that you have won $250,000…"
Someone who claims to work for the Federal Trade Commission calls to inform you that you have won a lottery or sweepstakes. To receive the prize, all you have to do is pay the taxes and insurance. The caller asks you to wire money or send a check for an amount between $1,000 and $10,000.
What should you do? Whatever you do, don't send any money or provide any account information.
The FTC is the nation's consumer protection agency. It investigates fraud and provides free information, but it never collects money directly from consumers. FTC employees don't have any involvement with this sweepstakes scam, and they want you to avoid it.
The caller might suggest that the FTC is supervising the giveaway. He or she might even use the name of a real FTC employee. Your Caller ID might display the Federal Trade Commission's name or a Washington, DC area code. Don't be surprised if you receive repeated calls and follow-up faxes.
No matter how convincing the impersonation, never send money to claim a prize. No FTC employee will ever call to ask you to send money. Legitimate sweepstakes companies won't either. Nevertheless, many consumers and their families have sent money and lost it before realizing and reporting that they were scammed.
Taking a few precautions can help you minimize your risk of falling for the lure of sweepstakes scams:
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