Every day, people throughout the UK open their post, receive a telephone call, turn on their computers or switch on their mobile phones to find they have unexpectedly won an exciting prize in a prize draw, lottery, sweepstake or other form of promotion. While some of these approaches are legitimate, others are a dishonest attempt to trap you into parting with your money or to steal your identity the registration or payment processing form usually ask for a comprehensive list of personal details including bank details.
Many common scams take the form of prize draws or lotteries designed to trick the unwary. Scams are usually based outside the UK from countries in Europe, North America, Canada and so on, although they may use UK Post Office or mail boxes to give the impression that the lottery is based in the UK.
Typical scams may:
- Offer access to a winning ticket or the prize in an overseas draw or lottery, or membership of a lottery syndicate, in return for an ‘administration’ or ‘registration’ fee
- Require a purchase of some kind to receive a ‘prize’
- Suggest that there are government funds available to be claimed by individuals.
More often than not, there is no prize or reward on offer. Anything that is ‘won’ is usually sub-standard, overpriced or misleadingly described and worth much less than the requested fee.
To avoid becoming a scam lottery victim, remember these points:
- Ask yourself ‘How could I win a lottery prize if I haven’t bought a ticket?’
- Usually, if you win something you don’t have to pay anything to receive your prize
- Once you respond to bogus promotions, your name and address is likely to be placed on other lists for similar scams
- If asked to use a premium rate telephone number, remember these can be very expensive and may be part of the scam
- Never reveal credit card or bank account details unless absolutely sure who you’re dealing with. These details may be asked for as ‘identification’.
Typical warning signs include:
- The approach, whether in writing, by phone or by email, is unsolicited
- There is a very short time in which to respond to claim your prize or winnings
- An invitation to send a ‘processing’ or ‘administration’ fee to obtain a prize or reward
- The need to use premium rate phone lines
- The source of the promotion is based overseas
- An invitation to send money out of the country, particularly to the Netherlands or Canada, by money transfer
- Prizes are expressed in foreign currency
- An invitation to provide credit card or bank account details.
Please do not contact addresses, telephone / fax numbers or email addresses on these documents.