Win Money, Don’t Lose It: Beware of Texas Lottery Scams
A couple of years ago I worked an event in which we were giving away $100 gas card to celebrate the opening of a new gas station. A woman wearing brand new Louboutin heels nearly dropped her soda at the chance to sign up. Even if we have money, every one loves the chance to win some more.
It's that hope of a spontaneous windfall that scammers prey on, which is why both Mega Millions and the Texas Lottery have both issued tips to avoid being scammed into thinking you've won either lottery.
A lot of the advice boils down to a few things. First, if its too good to be true, it likely is. If you didn't buy a ticket, you didn't win anything.
If someone says you have won a lottery that you have never played, be suspicious. You can’t win a legitimate lottery if you didn’t buy a ticket.
Second, no one from either lottery will contact you about you winning anything. If you've won the lottery, you contact them. Phone calls may seem possibly legitimate (they are not), but some folks have even fallen for scams through email or even chat apps. Lotteries do not give out random prizes, either. You hit the numbers or you didn't.
Third, remember: you never have to pay to claim your winnings from the lottery. If someone is asking you to wire money to cover taxes or fees associated with winning, it's a scam. The IRS will withhold taxes from your payout check after you claim your prize. There's no "upfront" anything to be paid.
The Texas lottery emphasizes only purchasing lottery tickets from authorized dealers inside Texas. You should not purchase a "winning" ticket from anyone, as it could easily be fake or already claimed. It's also a good idea to only enter a lottery pool with people you really trust:
Be wary of lottery pools. Only pool your money with those you trust and be sure that you understand exactly what your share in any winnings would be. It is recommended that you ask for all terms and conditions in writing before joining a lottery pool.
Sounds a little formal for an office pool but you can never be too careful when it comes to large sums of cash.
If you feel like someone has attempted to scam you, you can contact the Federal Trade Commission so they can investigate further: 1-877-FTC-HELP. If you have already been scammed, then you need to contact police.