Have you won a lottery prize?
The Isle of Man Office of Fair Trading is reminding consumers to think very carefully if they receive letters, ‘phone calls, emails or texts telling them that they have won an exciting prize in a prize draw or lottery.
Although some of these approaches may be legitimate, others are a dishonest attempt to trick you into parting with your money. You could be ripped off.
Typical scams may offer access to a winning ticket or the prize in a draw or lottery, or membership of a lottery syndicate, in return for an 'administration' or 'registration' fee. They may require a purchase of some kind to receive a 'prize'. Contact with them through a premium rate telephone number is often requested. Some suggest that there is a very short time in which to respond to claim your prize or winnings. Dangerously they may require you to provide personal or financial information or ask you to send money out of the country, particularly to the Netherlands or Canada, by money transfer, or list the prizes in foreign currency.
More often than not, there is no prize or reward on offer. Anything that is 'won' is usually sub-standard, overpriced or misleadingly described and worth much less than the requested fee.
Typical warning signs include the approach, whether in writing, by phone or by email, coming out of the blue when you have not purchased a ticket. There is a very short time in which to respond to claim your prize or winnings. The approach contains an invitation to send a 'processing' or 'administration' fee to obtain a prize or reward. They wish you to contact them using a premium rate ‘phone lines. The source of the promotion is based overseas (although sometimes they will cleverly include some reference to the Island in the title of the draw or lottery to make it seems more “local” and legitimate). The approach contains an invitation to send money out of the country. Prizes may be expressed in foreign currency. You are asked to provide credit card or bank account details.
To avoid becoming a scam lottery victim, remember these points:
- Ask yourself 'How could I win a lottery prize if I haven't bought a ticket?'
- Usually, if you win something you don't have to pay anything to receive your prize
- Once you respond to bogus promotions, your name and address is likely to be placed on other lists for similar scams
- Remember that calls to premium rate telephone numbers can be very expensive and may be part of the scam
- Never reveal credit card or bank account details unless you are absolutely sure who you're dealing with. These details may be asked for as 'identification'.
Chairman of the Office of Fair Trading Bill Henderson MHK said “It is very easy to be drawn into this type of scam. Everyone likes the idea of winning a prize and many of the main prizes which these “draws and lotteries” claim to offer are of high value. Needless to say no-one actually wins them. Take the Office’s advice on avoiding these scam lotteries and save yourself money and distress – these people are out to rip you off, especially if you give them bank details. If you are in any doubt talk to a family member, the OFT or of course your MHK”.