Lotteries can unfortunately be an opportunity for fraudsters to obtain victims’ personal and banking information by claiming they have won a prize. The victim may not remember entering a lottery because they often did not. Fraudsters use good news like this to drop defences and acquire personal information, exploiting it for monetary gain.

Although these fraudsters may use cunning tactics to scam your money, there are tell-tale signs to identify them. For instance, you may be told to “act quickly” or forfeit the prize. It is a sales tactic known as urgency. Similarly, scammers may ask you not to tell anyone about winning the lottery and keep the news confidential. Another sign is that you must pay a fee to claim your lottery prize. Likewise, a fraudster may ask you to return some money from your winnings.

Let’s learn how to protect yourself from lottery scams and fraud. 

Ignore unexpected notifications by text, phone, or email. 

Anyone is easily reachable these days. Text, phone, mail, email, and even social media exist. An unsolicited notification saying you have lottery winnings waiting to be claimed is suspicious. Ignore it. Many scams claim you’ve won money, an all-inclusive vacation, or a special item. Don’t believe them. 

Ask questions when communications are unexpected. 

If you are contacted out of the blue, there is no reason to believe the other person on the phone. Ask questions. Investigate a little about who they are. Be diligent when you receive unexpected communications claiming you’ve won something and must act quickly to receive it. The golden rule is to be cautious. 

Don’t share personal or banking information by phone. 

Never share your banking info or Social Insurance Number (SIN) with anyone. No legitimate lottery organization will ask for personal or banking information by phone. If someone asks for sensitive information like this by phone, be suspicious. You should request another way to relay the information. If they claim this is the only way to get your prize, it’s a lottery scam and fraud.

Don’t give sensitive information. 

Sometimes, a fraudster will ask to confirm if you’re the right person who has won the lottery. While this seems like a legitimate request, the truth is that they want your information. With a real lottery win, you must physically present yourself at a designated headquarters to claim your winnings.

Do not pay fees to claim lottery winnings. 

No lottery will request money or charge a fee to claim a prize. It doesn’t make sense. You win without incurring additional expenses when participating in Powerball or other lotteries. There are no additional fees to arrange. Likewise, there is nothing to pay for insurance, taxes, or banking fees, at least not over the phone. Someone requesting you to pay money to gain access to a prize likely has nefarious intentions.

Similarly, don’t send money to anyone for the lottery. When you win, the organization will not ask you for money. If someone requests you send them funds, that’s an immediate red flag. Be alert that the caller is not genuine or their proposal is false.

Be cautious of fake cheques. 

Some lottery scams are elaborate. After taking a victim’s personal information and deducting payment from their bank account, a fake cheque is sent to the victim. This tactic is to bid the fraudster more time. Meanwhile, the victim is convinced it’s a legitimate prize until their fake cheque doesn’t clear, and they are penalized at their bank. 

Research the company before accepting anything. 

A person on the phone may offer many extraordinary claims and make grandiose promises. Always do some research and question what company they work for. Research the phone number they’re calling from. If you’re unsure, ask a family member or trusted friend for their take on the news. Getting a second opinion never hurts. Take your time to validate the company since there is no sense of urgency or reason to act quickly after winning the lottery. 

Secure your finances immediately. 

Act quickly to secure your finances if you’ve been exposed to a lottery scam or fraud. Firstly, call your bank and report fraud. They can quickly connect your bank account, credit cards, and debit cards. If you are lucky, they can reverse and cancel fraudulent transactions. For your next step, notify Equifax and TransUnion. These two major credit bureaus will help you navigate your suspected identity fraud.