Summer is in full swing and so are exciting events like vacations, concerts, and more. While the sunshine and warm weather create the ideal backdrop or the perfect getaway, unfortunately these are the same elements scammers may try to use against you or someone you care about in an attempt to steal your private information and hard-earned money.
One example are “sweepstake scams,” designed to manipulate individuals into believing they have won a prize, enticing them to divulge personal information or send money to claim their supposed winnings. Fraudsters prey on human emotions to extract sensitive details or illegitimate payments.
During the summer season, scammers take advantage of your increased activity and relaxation mindsets by trying to convince you that you’ve won tickets to an exciting event, vacation, or cruise.
In its annual 2022 Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reported over 140,000 cases of Prizes, Sweepstakes, and Lottery scams in that year alone. This recent data shows people have reported losing over $300 million to this type of fraud, or an average of about $900 per victim.
According to Advia’s Fraud Department, common examples of sweepstakes scams that may be on the rise, especially in the summer, include:
- Concert ticket scams: Scammers exploit the eagerness of fans to secure tickets, using various deceptive tactics to swindle them out of their money. One of the most common avenues for ticket scams is through third-party ticketing websites or social media platforms. Scammers create fake ticket-selling accounts, enticing buyers with seemingly incredible deals. Our Fraud Department recommends only buying tickets from official sources, or if you do choose to purchase from a third-party, to make sure the seller is legitimate (you can do this by researching the seller’s reputation and reading customer reviews). In addition, be careful on social media because any time you’re buying from an individual and not an official website, your chances of being scammed significantly increase.
- Vacation scams: We recommend being extremely careful when told you have won a free trip. For every legitimate sweepstakes giveaway, there are hundreds of fake ones. First and foremost, if you have been told you are the winner of a vacation package, make sure the company that claims you have won the trip is a trusted organization. Some red signs you are being scammed could include being pressured to act quickly, lack of information regarding the giveaway, and a request to pay money. You shouldn’t have to give any card information if you are a winner, right?
Fraudsters may attempt to reach you by phone, text, email, social media, or even door-to-door visits. Scammer tactics often involve posing as representatives of companies or government agencies, claiming that you’ve won a substantial cash prize or an extravagant vacation package.
To combat this prevalent threat, Advia’s Fraud Department encourages you to stay vigilant and follow these general tips to avoid falling victim to sweepstakes scams:
- Do not send money: Be wary of requests for payments to cover taxes, shipping fees, or any other charges related to the supposed prize. Legitimate sweepstakes do not require winners to make any payments before receiving their reward.
- Do not provide personal information: Be cautious about sharing personal information, such as your social security number, bank account details, or credit card information, with anyone claiming to be from a sweepstakes company. Legitimate sweepstakes do not require such sensitive information for prize distribution.
- Do your own research: Before participating in any sweepstakes, research the sponsoring organization or company. Check their official website and look for reviews or complaints online to ensure their credibility.
- Confirm your confirmation: Fraudsters are getting more creative these days by sending legitimate-looking emails. They may create fake email addresses that are difficult to detect as fraudulent. These legitimate-looking emails are designed to trick you into giving up sensitive information or clicking on malicious links. For instance, the scammer may set their email name as a well-known company name, but if you pay close attention, the email address itself is not affiliated with the company’s online domain. They may also use similar branding (logos, fonts, and graphics) that a legitimate company uses. Always conduct your own research to confirm the email address being used matches the company’s website domain exactly.
Advia is committed to educating our members and community about the risks associated with vacation scams. By raising awareness and providing valuable guidance, we want to empower you to protect yourself against fraudulent activities and maintain your financial security.
Sources: Federal Trade Commission