BBB warns NC about possible lottery scams

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – With the Power reaching a record-breaking $1.5 billion, the Better Business Bureau is warning consumers about possible scammers.

Powerball winners will be announced on television and online.

The BBB says they expect scammers to email, call or mail you to “inform” you of your winnings, including secondary winners of smaller prizes.

Targets of a lottery scam are typically asked to pay “taxes” or other fees upfront before they can claim their big “winnings.”

In another variation, the target receives a congratulatory letter in the mail. The scammers will include a check to cover the taxes on the winnings. Victims are instructed to deposit it into their bank account and then send the money to a third party, usually by wire transfer or prepaid debit card. The fake check usually bounces and the victim is out the money.

Here are some tips from BBB Serving Eastern North Carolina to help avoid lottery scams:

• Don’t pay up to claim your prize. You should never have to pay money or buy products in order to receive a prize. Be especially wary of requests to send money via wire, prepaid debit card, gift card or other unusual forms of payment.
• Be wary of email announcements. Major sweepstakes organizations sometimes email about smaller prizes, but for big winners they usually show up at your house with a big check (and a camera crew).
• You can’t win a contest you didn’t enter. You need to buy a ticket or complete an application to participate in a contest or lottery. Be very careful if you’ve been selected as a winner for a contest you never entered.
• Verify — but not by using a source the scammers give you. Check if an offer is real, but don’t call the phone number in the email or website you suspect may be a scam. If it is a con, chances are the person on the other line will be involved, too.
• Check with BBB: Learn more about lottery scams and other cons at bbb.org/scam. Report scams to BBB Scam Tracker (bbb.org/scamtracker).

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