Did I Really Win a Sweepstake?

Chances are probably not, especially, if you didn’t enter anything. Everyday, we receive calls from the public asking us to check out a company to see if they won a sweepstake. They seem so routine to us because of the number of calls we receive, but to the public, it seems all too real.

Typically, here is what happens: You receive a letter saying you won a large portion of money and the check is included. You are instructed to go to the bank and cash it. The bank cashes the check and has to give you the money, however, the check hasn’t cleared yet. You strut out of the bank with the money and are typically required to wire money (often times a large portion) to an unknown person and then they will send you the award. (These scam artists want you to wire the money because it can’t be traced.) By the time the check actually clears the bank, you have wired the money, the check doesn’t clear and the bank comes back to you for the money — that you already wired. That money is gone and you are out.

Unethical sweepstakes can usually be identified by the following red flags:

· Some form of payment is required up front, like an entry fee, advance payment of taxes, or shipping and handling charges. They may even require that you cash a check and send a certain portion back. Do not do this!

· They may announce that you have already won a prize or require that some purchase is necessary to enter.

· Mailings may appear to be a check or may even contain some implication of a government connection.

Law governs many aspects of sweepstakes promotion. Some of these include:

· Easy to read and understand disclosures.

· Notification that no purchase is necessary to win and that purchase does not increase odds of winning.

· Entry forms on products must include directions to participate without making a purchase.

· You should also expect to see a statement of odds of winning, as well as a description of the quantity and value of prizes.

Remember, if it sounds to good to be true, it probably is.

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About Trisha Sefakis

I started at BBB|Cincinnati in 2004 as the Database Coordinator, I am now the Manager of Digital Media.