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Watch out for Mega Millions & Powerball lottery scams! Hints and tips to avoid losing money

With the jackpot often reaching life-changing sums and hundreds of millions of tickets bought, the scammers are ready to take advantage.

Watch out for Mega Millions & Powerball lottery scams!

As we’ve watched yet another lottery jackpot push over the $1 billion prize threshold, Americans all across the country have been eagerly making sure that they had their tickets at the ready when the numbers have been announced. Fingers have been crossed, rabbit’s feet have been rubbed, and prayers to whatever God have been made.

But there remains another cohort looking to win big, without even buying a ticket in the first place: the scammers.

Watch out for lottery scammers

The official Mega Millions webpage explains that, ‘no representative of Mega Millions would ever call, text, or e-mail anyone about winning a prize.’ And they offer much more advice as well as providing some handy tips.

  • If someone says you have won a lottery that you have never played, be suspicious. You can’t win a legitimate lottery if you didn’t buy a ticket.
  • If you are in a jurisdiction that is outside the market area of the lottery or game mentioned as the source of the “prize,” then it is a scam. Real lotteries do not hold “international” sweepstakes, contests or awards for people who live outside their market area. Mega Millions, for example, is played only in the United States, so if you are outside the U.S. and someone using our name tells you that you have won a big prize, it is a scam.
  • If you have caller-ID on your phone, check the area code when someone calls to tell you you’ve won. If it is from a foreign country, that is a red flag. Also, be aware that some con artists use technology that allows them to disguise their area code: although it may look like they’re calling from your state, they could be anywhere in the world.
  • Be suspicious if an e-mail contains misspellings or poor grammar, or if the person who called you uses poor English.
  • If you are told that you need to keep your “win” confidential, be suspicious.
  • No real lottery tells winners to put up their own money in order to collect a prize they have already won. If you are asked to pay any kind of fee to collect your winnings, you haven’t won.
  • Just because a real lottery is mentioned does not necessarily make it a real prize. Someone may be using the lottery’s name without its permission or knowledge.
  • Never give out personal information or send money unless you verify the company’s or solicitor’s legitimacy.
  • If they offer to wire the “winnings” directly into your bank account, do not give them your bank account information.
  • If you are told that you can “verify” the prize by calling a certain number, that number may be part of the scam. Instead of calling it, you should look up the name of the lottery or organization on your own to find out its real contact information.
  • If you think someone on the phone is trying to scam you, hang up immediately. If you engage them in conversation, your name and contact information could end up on a list that’s shared with other scammers.

Read more about lottery scams.

Be careful out there...