The letter seems authentic and official – it may even include an official-looking seal, approval number or barcode. All you have to do to claim your winnings is to pay a “processing fee” which may be as low as $20. The letter urges you to act immediately. Your winnings are waiting for you! You’re instructed to send your cash, credit card or money order in the pre-addressed reply envelope provided.
In reality, you won’t receive any winnings and you’ll lose the money you send. The same letter is sent to thousands of people and no one receives any money or prizes.
These tips can help you protect yourself from losing money on sweepstakes:
- Be cautious. Be wary of any solicitation that gives you the impression that you’ve won a sweepstakes.
- Recognize that sweepstakes solicitations come in many forms. Sweepstakes solicitations are typically sent by mail, but you can also be targeted by phone, email or on social media.
- Ask yourself if you entered the sweepstakes. You can’t be a winner of a sweepstakes if you didn’t enter it.
- Never pay money to claim your money or prize. Legitimate sweepstakes don’t require you pay a fee to participate or receive a prize.
- Do not respond to any sweepstakes mailing. Throw it in the trash. If you respond, you will be targeted with similar fraudulent solicitations.
- Look out for elderly family members and friends. This type of fraud frequently targets the elderly, some of whom may be your loved ones or friends. Share this information with them.
If you have been the victim of a fraudulent sweepstakes mailing or other types of mail fraud, report it to the Canada Anti-Fraud Centre (1-888-495-8501), the Competition Bureau (1‑800‑348‑5358), the RCMP or your local police (Sooke: 250-642-5241.
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