The pandemic has caused financial distress because of lost jobs, income, and homes, and emotional distress because of social isolation. This week, during National Consumer Protection Week (NCPW), we want your help to reach people who might be a bit cut off from their social network. The FTC knows that people who talk about scams are less likely to fall for them, and we hope to spark discussions by offering conversation-starting ideas. To close out NCPW, here are a few ideas to help you and the people you care about spot and avoid a “free prize” con.
Prize and lottery scams can start many ways, but they often begin with an unexpected phone call. The scammers may claim to be from the government. Or an official-sounding organization. They make wild claims about big winnings, and demand payment up front. If you get a call like this, hang up. You probably already know that. But you may know someone who doesn’t. So give a call to someone who might be a bit isolated, who could use a reminder about these scams. Chances are, they would like to hear from you, and have a chance to talk about how things are going and what’s on their mind.
Here are a few tips you can share about prize and lottery scams when you chat:
Legitimate contests don’t ask you to pay a fee, or give your bank account or credit card number to get your prize.
Don’t trust caller ID. Scammers can make it look like they’re calling from anywhere.
After you talk, invite your friend or relative to call you back if they have questions, or if they get a surprise phone call. If they say they already spotted a scam or sent money, please ask them to report to ReportFraud.ftc.gov. You’re welcome to file report for someone, if they ask for help.