CHICO — For someone who hasn’t bought a lottery ticket in at least eight years, I think a lot about what I’ll do with the money when I finally win.
However, I do occasionally participate in online music gear giveaways as long as they are clearly from sources I trust and are backed by well-known brands. I never earn more than extra spam by trying to enter other sketchier contests.
Those who frequently play the lottery or enter sweepstakes are the perfect target for scammers claiming to be the prize bearer, happy to tell you that all your problems are about to be solved with the one of those big Happy Gilmore checks.
The Federal Trade Commission explains how price scams work.
Typically, the target is contacted by e-mail, telephone or letter informing them that they have won a lottery or a prize such as a new car.
The good news is that you’ll be able to tell pretty quickly that it’s a scam, either because you didn’t enter jack or because of the ultimate telltale sign: they want money.
Ah yes, but of course, if you play the lottery or the raffle, you have already paid by buying a ticket. I mean, it’s not really a price if you have to pay it now, is it?
Some scammers try to circumvent this by asking for banking information instead of asking for money directly at the door. It’s a bit more dubious because if the prize is money, well, of course they have to know where to transfer it, right?
Unfortunately, that’s not how it works. Many people have found the rationality in this statement only to willingly hand over their private information just to find out that the prize is for the scammer, not them.
The Federal Trade Commission is asking anyone who believes they have been the victim of a scam like this, or provided money to the scammer, to file a report at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.
Also, if the scam came in the mail, you can report it at uspis.gov/report.