“Congratulations! You are one of our lucky winners for a week-long luxury vacation to the beautiful and sunny beaches of Puerto Vallarta.”
If you receive a phone call, email, text, or flier like this, you may have just been targeted for a travel sweepstakes scam. Scammers often target older adults since they have more disposable income and travel a lot — but anyone can be a victim.
Before you give out your credit card number, dial for reservations, or respond to an enticing email, use extreme caution.
- Do you have to make a purchase or send a "service fee" to receive the prize? Legitimate sweepstakes never require you to make a purchase or pay a fee to claim your prize. Never give out your credit card or bank account number over the phone, or send wire transfer or money orders in order to claim a prize.
- Is it hard to tell who is giving you the prize? Sponsors of legitimate contests or sweepstakes clearly identify themselves. They also provide a phone number or address you can use to request removal from their mailing list.
- Are the terms of the promotion are nowhere to be found? Legitimate contests and promotions will include a lot of disclaimers, terms, and conditions, including rules and odds of winning.
- Did you receive a bulk-rate postcard or flyer? It's a no-brainer, but if you truly won a big prize, you likely would not be notified by bulk-rate mail.
- Is the promoter using a well-known brand-name to add legitimacy? It's illegal for a promoter to misrepresent an affiliation with — or endorsement by — a government agency or other well-known organization, airline, cruise line, or other company.