No prizes from the FTC

Recently, someone showed up at the door of the FTC to ask about his prize. He had a mailing saying he’d won $5 million – and the FTC had “certified and verified” it. The letter told him to act immediately to get the money. Otherwise, his millions would be given to somebody else. He’d talked with the so-called officials, who wanted him to pay $500 in fees to claim his (ahem) prize.

But here’s the thing: the FTC doesn’t give free prizes, certify prizes, or verify prizes. Anyone who says we do is lying and trying to get your money. And companies that give free prizes don’t charge you to collect your winnings. Anyone who asks you to pay for a prize will take your money, but you’ll never get the promised pay-out.

Scammers are good at making their tall tales seem real. This man’s letter looked real, with a picture of our building and our seal. But the important parts are fake: the FTC does not certify or validate prizes. And we don’t call, email or write to ask you for money for any reason. So: if you get a letter like this, that’s a scam. Tell the FTC. If anybody asks you to pay them – or give your bank account or credit card number – to claim a prize, that’s a scam. Tell the FTC. And if anybody says you must pay by wiring money or buying a gift card, that’s a scam. Always. And tell the FTC.

If ever you wonder about a letter, call, or message that says you’ve won (or that you must pay for some other reason), do what this man did. Stop and check it out. Talk to someone you trust. Sign up for our scam alerts to keep up with the latest scams – and, when you spot one: tell the FTC.

This article by the FTC was distributed by the Personal Finance Syndication Network.