Your phone beeps and you open to a delightful text. You’ve just won $3 million dollars in a prize! Is it your lucky day or have you just been scammed? We hate to tell you, but it’s very likely that the prize is just too good to be true.
Unexpected money and prizes aren’t a new scam. They’ve been around for years in the form of inheritance scams, rebate scams, lottery, and prize scams. All of them are promising you a monetary value in the form of cash or a voucher.
You’ll often receive them via a text, or an email in your inbox. It will catch your eye because of the words like “prize”, and lots of numbers with dollar signs.
These scammers will:
- Tell you out of the blue you are owed money, have been left money or you’ve won a prize!
- They’ll sometimes share a tragic story with you and will ask to transfer money to your account
- Ask for your personal details and bank account information (don’t hand it over!)
- Ask for upfront payments of fees or taxes to “release” the money you are owed.
- Sometimes ask you to call a phone number starting with “19”, which then charges you a premium rate.
A few hard truths:
- There are no get-rich-quick schemes out there that can make you wealthy.
- You can’t win a lottery or prize that you haven’t entered. If only!
- Never give strangers your bank details or an upfront payment.
- Delete any emails that sound suspicious.
- Don’t click links in “pop-up” ads that appear on your screen. Invest in a pop-up blocker for your browser to stop the accidental clicks too!
How to verify:
- Conduct an online search using the exact wording in the message or email to see if it’s a scam.
- If someone is asking you to make an upfront payment to release the money, know it’s not legitimate!
- Don’t call or text numbers you don’t know.
- Ask yourself if you were expecting a payment of know the person offering it.
- Ask yourself if you actually entered that lottery or competition in the first place.
- Follow your gut instinct on whether the message looks and sounds official.
Next time you get a text saying you’ve won an unexpected prize. Do your best to ignore it, or follow our steps to verify whether it’s legitimate.