“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.
The Better Business Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission offer the following five clues you might be the victim of a travel sweepstakes scam:
- 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.
If you receive a travel sweepstakes scam, report it to the Attorney General's Office using our "File a Complaint" form or call our Consumer Resource Center at 1.800.551.4636 (Washington only).