Prize Scams: Don’t Pay to Play

You get a phone call from an excited caller saying you’ve won a trip, a car, or a lot of money. Next, they ask you to send money before you get the prize. That is a sure sign of a scam.

Recently, we’ve heard about a spike in prize scam calls. Although there are some legitimate contests, remember: there are a lot of scams. Here are a few ways to spot a prize scam:

  • Scammers ask you to pay before you can claim your prize. Legitimate sweepstakes don’t make you pay a fee or buy something to enter or improve your chances of winning. Scammers might try to sound official and say it’s for “taxes,” “shipping and handling charges,” or “processing fees.”  Don’t pay to claim a prize, and never give your checking or credit card number for a sweepstakes promotion.
  • Scammers ask you to wire money to “insure” delivery of your prize. Don’t do it. Legitimate sweepstakes don’t ask you to wire money. Once you wire money, you can’t get it back. The same goes for sending a check or money order by overnight delivery or putting money on a prepaid debit card.
  • Scammers send you a check and ask you to send some of the money back. But the check is fake, and you’re responsible for repaying the bank.
  • Scammers use the names of well-known companies for prize scams. Con artists often pretend to call from well-known companies to make themselves appear legitimate and gain your trust. If you don’t remember entering, you probably didn’t. If you think it may be legit, use a search engine to find the company’s real phone number. Call to confirm that you entered a contest before responding to any claims that you won.

If you’re suspicious of a prize offer, report it to us.

Tagged with: prize, scam
Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit


Whenever we get these calls, we tell them to take the taxes, fees, etc. out of the prize money and send the balance.

That's exactly what legit lottery businesses do. They always take processing fees out of the prize itself. Basically, never pay to get paid. :P

Plaise stop end still may gmail

FTC never does anything with complaints anyway. They send you a link explaining how you've already been scammed.

This happened to me, and they scammed for quite a bit of money. And I was dealing with a woman who said she worked for the government, and even provided a phone number which was a government number.

I was wondering if they used a government phone number did you call it back? did they also tell you that you would be able to pay 1/2 of the bill and the rest would be forgiven? This is what happened to me with a government # that was given to me for a bill that I did not create

Prizes are just that, prizes,something you won by entering a drawing,sweepstakes, or contest that you personally entered. Best to just hang up,or if I won, send me my prize,or better yet, can you call back later when my husband gets home after his shift,he's a cop, and I know he will be really glad to hear the good news.

Point is,never pay for a prize,if you did not enter,it's a scam. Anyone say they are from the government,anyone who works for the State,County,or City department,works for the government. Also,don't answer unknown calls,or from States you've never been to, or have business with. Sorry for your loss,definitely a difficult way to learn a lesson. These vultures prey on the hopeful and the innocent.

This is just wrong if you put out the effort to earn the prize you should receive it

Instigram Mega Millions repeatedly called me over and over again Saying that I won twelve million and a cashier's check for twelve thousand they wanted me to pay ATLEAST $300 I had to pay for some gold seal anyhow they laughed at me cuz I told them I am flat broke which is the truth or even a nickle they thought that was helarious

They also tell people not to tell family and friends about the "prize". They will say it is because people will become jealous of their good luck. But really it is so the scam isn't found out.

Some need to know that most companies that run contests or sweepstakes usually don't alert the winners in advance to begin with. In other words, if you get a call or email from someone claiming that you won something, you most likely didn't. Being on Publishers Clearing House, they even have blog entry posts about such a scam. Should anyone actually win something, it will just be mailed to them or those responsible for giving the prize will just show up at their place.

Don't send any money. Tell them to come by and pick the fee up after you receive the cash.

Thats the call I got saying i won 500,000 they said they paid for insurance but I had to keep track of it and when the check makes it to me to put it in the bank etc.. I knew it was a scam. Point blanck if you win anything you dont have to pay.

Publishers CH says no purchase necessary but I never seem to get to the final stage. Ads for the items they are selling come up continuously. I finally log out and then I get another email saying I have just one more step to complete my entry.Baaahaaaawaaaaa!

Why do animal rescue havens ask for money donations and then offer $25,000 sweepstakes?

As an elder senior citizen, I probably get 15 calls a week from phone calls. They are even using our local area code now. It's sad that so many fall for these scams.

If your kids get this message, remind them that it is illegal to play a foregin lottery, and it's illegal to play any lottery if you're under 18.

Earlier this morning a phone call was received from a Washington, DC entity claiming to be of all people, the FTC. The message was automated, asking the caller to press 1 right away to speak with "John" or "Fariq" to claim a prize from Publishers Clearinghouse. The number listed was 202-869-1388. I called the number back and got a general voice message saying the party you are trying to reach is not available; please leave your name and number. I knew right then it was a scam, as I have communicated with you all in the past. Just wanted to make you aware the Scammers are trying to turn the tables on you.

Please report these imposters to the FTC at  The information you give will go into a secure database that the FTC and other law enforcement agencies use for investigations.

The comments you put here on the blog don't go into the law enforcement database.

A formal complaint has been submitted. Thanks for your help.

John called me today from a New York number. I won $2.5 million and a new car. I asked him so many questions, he got frustrated and hung up. I just filed a formal complaint.

Thank you so much for this website. The government can protect us; we must not remove money from federal agencies like the FTC. Does the name David Washington or his phone number 334-375-7892 from Selma help?

Very good

There is a Government grant on facebook, That tells you that you win a Government grant lotto for $250,000.00 And after you contact them they want $850.00 for the UPS to deliver it to your address with-in 6 hours same day. This I know can only be a scam to get your money and you never receive nothing for it. There web site only goes by numbers.5786432901237897 don't fall for this one...

thanks for website

the phone number that they gave my dad was 781 202-4959 not sure where this number is from his name is John Kennedy if you can help let me know

One time my grandmother got a scam call she did not respond she just called police

Watch out for thescam saying you became elgiable for a grant for 9,500 all you have to do after they give you a pin is go to walmart pit 250 on your card to activate the pin and after 10 min the money will be on your card and your 25p back. It is fake called and complanned about it.

They are still calling. Demanding. Fees. Facebook. Lottery. Person. Or persons. Keep. Demanding. Fees

U win 2.5 millions Jamaica. # 876 370 0454 Trying to scam me

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