BBB notes uptick in calls about sweepstakes scams

Published: May. 8, 2023 at 6:23 PM CDT
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - It’s that time of year when Publishers Clearing House often awards their big prize, but the marketing company awards prizes throughout the year. And it’s always prime time for scammers who want to trick people into giving up money to get money.

Everyone would like to think they are lucky enough to win a major sweepstakes, but unless Steve Harvey shows up at your door, you likely have not won the grand prize.

“If you are the winner of the multimillion-dollar prize, Steve Harvey himself will come to your door, and that is a true statement,” said Angela Guth, executive director of the Better Business Bureau of Southwest Louisiana.

Guth said if it’s a phone call or message on social media announcing your prize, you haven’t won.

“It will never be just a phone call. It will never be a text message. They are not going to reach out to you on social media. What generally will happen is, if you are some sort of winner, you will receive a certified letter in the mail from Publishers Clearing House. You will have to do what’s called an affidavit of identity, you’ll have to do several things to claim those winnings,” she said.

She said you will never have to pay a fee upfront to claim your prize from a sweepstakes.

“What these scammers are telling people, is, ‘You have to pay a five hundred dollar fee. You need to go get some gift cards from your local convenience store or local market and that’s going to pay the fee until you get keys to a brand-new BMW you’ve won. And that’s not the case. You should never have to pay a fee,” said Guth.

The same goes for any taxes due on the prize. Guth said such money is withheld from the winnings.

Details of the rules are on the company website.