Imagine, if you will, that you’re going about your normal evening routine—making dinner, cleaning up the house, trying to get the kids to settle down—and your phone rings. At the other end is a really friendly guy who is excited to tell you that there’s a pile of money with your name on it. All you have to do is provide your bank account number, and they’ll wire the money to you. And then you can use it however you want: vacations, shopping sprees, maybe a new house?
Before you get too far ahead with your daydream (sorry!), I have to tell you—this, unfortunately, isn’t how legal lotteries work. If this happens to you, it’s a scam. Lotteries like Mega Millions and Powerball will never call you to tell you you’ve won. Even if they did, they most certainly wouldn’t ask you for any of your personal bank account information.
Have you ever received one of these calls?
- A person claiming to be from a real lottery commission will tell you that there’s a cash prize waiting for you. The number on the Caller ID may be blocked, or show that it’s coming from outside the United States (common scams are based in Canada or Australia).
- In order to claim your prize, you may need to pay a fee. It seems like common sense, but, no legitimate lottery will ask you for money in exchange for money.
- They’ll then ask you to provide a bank account number so they can wire the money to you. With this, they can clean out all of your bank accounts. Do not give them any of your personal information.
- You may be provided with a number to call in order to “verify” the prize. Instead of calling this number, look up the contact information of the legitimate organization the caller is associated with.
If anything like this happens to you, hang up the phone immediately. If you engage in a conversation, your name and contact information may end up on the call list of another scammer. In addition, I encourage you to contact the FTC and report the incident. They can’t investigate each claim individually, but it will help them put a stop to future scams and alert others who may be at risk.
There are a lot of bad guys out there, but also a number of ways to safeguard your money and identity. Among them, UltraSecure from IdentityForce. Our service will monitor your information and alert you to any suspicious activity. And, should something happen, our team will help restore your identity so you can get back to your life. That way, you can rest easy, buy your lottery tickets in peace, and maybe even win a few real dollars once in a while.
Image courtesy of Flickr user Lisa Brewster.