Educational Consumer Tips
Better Business Bureau
If you have been contacted by mail or telephone and have been told that you have won a prize, first determine if there is any cost or obligation to you. If the company asks you to pay any money or fee at all, you have not won anything. Prizes are often misrepresented. For example, a "free" vacation may be a vacation certificate with numerous conditions and fees applied. A "diamond" bracelet may be an inexpensive trinket worth very little. Even when a company claims that no purchase is necessary, a redemption fee far in excess of the value of the prize may be required.
The latest wrinkle on this idea is to send a check, asking the recipient to deposit it in their account and to wire a fee back to the sender. Sometimes these scammers use the name of a genuine company on the check. By the time the consumer is notified that the "check" was not honored or found to be counterfeit after deposit, they may already have sent their own money to an unknown party in a hard to trace wire.
When approached about such prize promotions, be wary. Never give your checking account number to any party over the phone; your account may be debitted without authorization. Never give your credit card number to any unknown company. Never wire or send fees connected to a prize sent by check that cannot be verified.