There are plenty of reputable contests and sweepstakes out there (including some from AARP), and let’s be honest, winning feels great! But there are questionable characters out there too, who are trying to hook you on winning and reel in the profits for themselves.

HOW IT WORKS:

You have to pay a fee to collect your winnings;You’re told you’ve won a prize but:

  • You have to wire money to a well-known company to insure delivery of the prize;
  • You have to deposit a check they have sent you;
  • Your notice was mailed by bulk rate;
  • You have to attend a sales meeting to win.

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW: 

  • You cannot win a contest you did not enter. Don’t believe claims saying that you were automatically entered.
  • Playing a foreign lottery is illegal. If you’re told that your name was entered in a foreign lottery, know it is a scam.
  • Remember: if you have to pay to receive it, it’s not a prize. It’s a scam!

WHAT YOU SHOULD DO:

  • The Federal Trade Commission recommends looking up a contest or promoter in a search engine with the words “scam” or “complaint”.
  • Report spam texts that offer gifts, gift cards, or free services to your carrier, then delete the message.
  • If you think you’ve been targeted by a prize scam, report it at www.ftc.gov/complaint and share on the Fraud Watch Network scam-tracking map. You should also alert the SD Division of Consumer Protections by calling 1-800-300-1986 or visiting consumer.sd.gov. They can investigate these scams and warn other South Dakotans to stay vigilant.

When it comes to fraud, vigilance is our number one weapon. You can join the Fraud Watch Network and receive alerts about scams happening in South Dakota. Any one of any age can join for free by visiting aarp.org/fraudwatchnetwork or to receive Fraud Watch Network alerts by phone, call 1-866-542-8172.