watch out for sweepstakes phone scams

It all started with a phone call.

The 87-year-old man picked up his ringing phone and heard what we’ve all wished to hear: someone announcing that he’d won millions of dollars in a sweepstakes. Fifty million dollars, to be exact. All he had to do, the voice on the phone instructed, was send $23,000 to cover “sweepstakes insurance.” And then a little bit more for some fees, and then some more for paperwork costs, and soon he’d sent $739,000 overseas and had received nothing in return. It was only at this point that he realized he’d become victim of a scam and reported it to the police.

These kinds of phone scams are happening every day. It is important to be aware so that we avoid becoming victims, too. Here are some tips to help you avoid becoming a victim of a phone scam:

  1. If you receive a phone call or email informing you that you have won a sweepstakes, it may sound exciting and like a dream come true, but if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Remember, if you have not entered any sweepstakes, you will not win any sweepstakes. You have to play to win.
  2. Ask questions. Take down the name of the company giving the sweepstakes, their location, and how they got your information. If they are reluctant to answer your questions or try to pressure you into giving any information about yourself, it’s a red flag that something is not right.
  3. If they start asking for sensitive information like your name, address, bank information, social security number, or credit card number, it’s time to hang up. A legitimate sweepstakes company should never ask for this information over the phone!
  4. Never wire money or load money onto gift cards to send in payments! Money spent this way is untraceable and almost impossible to get back, and is never ever required by a legitimate company. If they ask you to send money or tell you that you will have to pay for forms, service charges, or any other fees up front, then it is most likely a scam.
  5. If you are uncertain at all, ask around. Research the company on the internet, ask friends and family, and report your experience to the police.

See the news posting here and learn more about protecting yourself from scams here.

Check out our Elder Care Whiteboard Videos for more information on financial matters such as how to pay for long-term care costs and protecting your home and savings from the nursing home. For Estate Planning, Special Needs Planning, Elder Law, Veterans Benefits, Real Estate, and Business Planning needs contact Glenn R. Matecun by calling 517-548-7400 in Livingston County and 586-751-0779 in Macomb County.

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