Competition Bureau of Canada says beware of lottery, sweepstakes and contest scams

Lotteries, sweepstakes and contests are one of the ways scam artists try to lure innocent people in, whether by email or junk mail.

Lotteries, sweepstakes and contests are one of the ways scam artists and fraudsters try to lure innocent people in, whether by email or junk mail.

Many Canadians are lured by the excitement of a surprise win and find themselves sending huge amounts of money to claim fake prizes.

What to look for

You cannot win money or a prize in a lottery unless you have entered it yourself or someone else has entered it on your behalf. You cannot be chosen as a random winner if you don’t have an entry.

Many lottery scams try to trick you into providing banking or personal details to claim your prize. You should not have to pay any fee or tax to claim a legitimate prize.

Don’t be fooled by claims that the offer is legal or has government approval – many scammers will tell you this. Instead of receiving a grand prize or fortune, you will lose every cent that you send to a scammer, and if you have provided other personal details, your identity could be misused too.

A fake prize scam will tell you that you have won a prize or a contest. You may receive a phone call, an email, a text message or see a pop-up screen on your computer. There are often costs involved with claiming your prize, and if you do receive a prize, it may not be what was promised you.

The scammers make their money by making you pay fees or taxes, call their premium rate phone numbers or send premium text messages to claim your prize. These premium rate calls can be very expensive and the scammers will try to keep you on the line for a long time or ask you to call a different premium rate number.

Protect yourself

Remember: Legitimate lotteries do not require you to pay a fee or tax to collect winnings.

Caution: Never send money to anybody you don’t know and trust.

Think: Don’t provide personal banking details to anyone you don’t know and trust.

Investigate: Examine all of the terms and conditions of any offer very carefully – claims of free or very cheap offers often have hidden costs. Calls to premium rate phone numbers or premium text messages can be very expensive.

You cannot win money or a prize in a contest unless you have entered it yourself, or someone has entered it on your behalf.

– An entry from the Competition Bureau of Canada’s The Little Black Book of Scams