Lottery games both in the UK and across the world have strict rules in place to ensure that they are fair and fun to play. However, there are many people out there who try and use the allure of money to set up lottery scams to divert people away from legitimate games. These fraudsters take advantage of unwitting victims who are blinded by promises of receiving a life-changing amount of cash.
The scams generally rely on persuading the recipient of a bogus email, text, letter or phone call that they have won a huge amount of cash in a lottery, which will then be transferred into their bank account on payment of вЂprocessing feesвЂ™ or вЂtaxesвЂ™. These amounts are kept by the scammers, who often request further payments, stringing the victim along. Often the fraudster asks for personal information which will then be used for the purposes of identity theft.
Responding to just one of these communications can open the door to a flood of unwanted letters, phone calls and emails trying to separate you from your money. Read this page to learn more about protecting yourself against lottery scams.
Avoiding a Lottery Scam
- If you havenвЂ™t entered a lottery, raffle, sweepstake or other competition, then you cannot win it!
- To win Lotto, EuroMillions, PeopleвЂ™s Postcode Lottery, The Health Lottery or any other lottery game, you must have bought a ticket for the correct draw date and you must match the winning numbers exactly on your ticket.
- No legitimate lottery will randomly select email addresses or mobile phone numbers to win prizes.
- Legitimate lotteries will not approach you asking you to claim a prize. You may receive an email advising you of a win and instructing you to check your online account, but it is for you to approach the lottery company in order to claim any prize that you are due.
- Legitimate lotteries will not ask for any fee or upfront payment of taxes in order to process your claim.
Clues to Identify a Scam
There are plenty of signs by which you can work out whether the lottery communication you have received is fake. Your letter, email, text or phone call may have all or some of these indicators:
- Often the message will claim to be from a legitimate company, but the email address used bears no resemblance to that company name. For instance, it may be sent from a free webmail address like Hotmail.com or Gmail.com.
- If you receive a phone call, check the number вЂ“ if it begins with +4470, it is a Personal Redirect Number, which can be used from anywhere in the world. No legitimate lottery would use this sort of phone number.
- It may not refer to you by name, but rather as вЂњDear WinnerвЂќ or something similar but still suitably vague.
- Scam letters are sometimes printed on poor quality paper, often with a photocopied letterhead. Occasionally they give the address of a legitimate business to try and trick you into believing that the win is real.
- They will often include a strict time limit on claiming the prize, as well as a confidentiality clause, in an effort to pressure the potential victim into parting with their money or bank details. It means that the recipient of the scam has less time to properly investigate the communication or seek advice.
- Scam communications often have poor grammar and spelling mistakes.
What to Do if You Receive a Scam
If you receive any form of communication informing you of a win on a lottery that you havenвЂ™t entered, then it is recommended that you:
- Do not send any money.
- Do not reply to the message, as it will only encourage the scammers to send you more emails, letters and phone calls. If you have already responded, then cut off all contact straight away.
- If you received an email, do not open any attachments or files that came with it, as they could contain malware or a virus.
- Do not disclose your private bank or personal details. If you have already provided this information, then notify your bank or building society immediately.
- Contact Action Fraud either through their website (https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/) or on 0300 123 2040 for advice on what to do next.
Methods of Scamming
These are the most common types of lottery scams. You may be initially contacted through one of these means:
- Post: You receive a letter telling you that you have won a prize, but that you need to pay a fee to process your claim before any winnings can be paid out.
- Email: Similar to the postal scam, but emails from scammers can also link back to fraudulent copies of official websites in order to seem legitimate.
- Phone: You receive a call informing you of a lottery win and, during the call, the вЂlottery officialвЂ™ will attempt to take advantage of your shock in order to obtain your bank details.
- Social Media: You receive a direct message telling you that your account has been selected for a lottery or raffle prize. You will then be asked to forward your financial details.
- Mobile: You receive an SMS informing you that your mobile phone number has been selected at random from a lottery to win a prize.
No matter how they get in touch with you, never give your personal and financial information over to a suspected lottery scammer. No legitimate, regulated lottery will ask you to pay a fee for your winnings. Just hang up, throw out the letters and delete the emails and messages.
Types of Scam
- Second Chance Lottery: You may be contacted by a scammer claiming to act on behalf of Lotto or EuroMillions and offering you a вЂsecond chanceвЂ™ to win a prize that has not been claimed. UK lottery games do not offer this type of draw, as any prizes left unclaimed after 180 days are then distributed to good causes.
- Lottery Winner Trusts: These are scam communications which take the names of previous high-profile winners and claim to be donating funds on their behalf to those less fortunate. The idea is to obtain your bank details in order to make the вЂpaymentвЂ™. Well-known winners whose names have been used without their knowledge in such activity include ВЈ161 million EuroMillions winners Colin and Christine Weir from Largs in Scotland, Neil Trotter from Surrey who scooped ВЈ108 million and Northern Irish woman Margaret Loughrey, who genuinely did donate a portion of her ВЈ27 million winnings to those in need, but not through any scheme like the ones listed above.
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Find out about some of the different types of lottery scams online. Learn how to avoid and identify scams and what you should do if you think you’ve received one.
Can you buy lottery tickets with a credit card?
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- Apr. 2, 2020 /
- 3 min read
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You walk into a convenience store, choose your lottery ticket and prepare to pay for your purchase with a credit card. But there’s an issue: the cashier informs you that your credit card might as well be Monopoly money — she can’t accept it because of state law.
But why is this the case? It turns out there are a few reasons many states prohibit using your credit card for lottery ticket purchases. We’ll explore a few of the reasons some states outlaw credit card lottery purchases, and why even if your state allows it, you should think twice before swiping for a chance at riches.
What you need to know
The average U.S. millennial spends about $976 a year on lottery tickets. The allure of the lottery is understandable; for a few bucks, you have the chance to become wealthier. However, it’s hard for many people to understand just how small of a chance you have to actually win.
Here’s a little help to put your odds in perspective: You have a better chance of winning an Oscar than seeing the numbers on a televised lottery broadcast match your ticket numbers. Besides the terrible odds, you may be restricted to certain payment methods if you purchase a lottery ticket. There are a few factors that will determine whether you can use plastic to buy tickets for popular lotteries like Powerball or Mega Millions.
For example, there are about two dozen states that outright ban the use of credit cards to buy lottery tickets to prevent people from gambling with money they don’t have in their accounts. There are also six states that don’t sell lottery tickets because they don’t have state lotteries and don’t participate in multi-state lotteries: Alabama, Alaska, Hawaii, Mississippi, Nevada and Utah.
The following states do permit the use of credit cards to buy lottery tickets:
- New York
- Rhode Island
- South Dakota
Although it’s not explicitly prohibited to buy lottery tickets with a credit card in these states, many state legislatures have complicated the matter. You can still be barred from purchasing lottery tickets if a specific merchant decides they don’t want to accept credit card payments for lottery tickets. For example, you can’t go out and buy lottery tickets with a credit card at Safeway. In fact, some retailers and states even prohibit debit cards for purchasing lotto tickets.
Why shouldn’t I buy lottery tickets with a credit card?
Can you buy lottery tickets with a credit card? Yes, with some restrictions regarding the state and store as mentioned above. The question to ask yourself is whether or not using credit is a responsible way to spend your money. Here are a few reasons why your money is better spent (or invested) elsewhere.
You might not earn rewards
Using a credit card for lottery tickets likely won’t yield rewards for many types of reward credit cards. This is because reward structures are usually based around points or cash back where gambling isn’t an earning category. You’ll need to check the terms and conditions of your specific credit card to find out whether you’ll earn points or not.
You’re taking on debt to finance gambling
It’s easy to get sucked into the promise of riches. But if you’re using a credit card to pay for a chance at winning the lottery, you’re adding to your overall debt load. If you buy multiple tickets regularly, your yearly costs can quickly snowball.
Better options exist elsewhere
Imagine if you instead invest the hundreds of dollars you spend each year on the lottery. Low-risk stocks where you can expect steady growth are a better financial strategy that may help grow your wealth. Or, you can put your money in a high-yield savings account. According to Bankrate data, only 18 percent of Americans have an emergency fund that’s fully topped up and 28 percent have no emergency savings. There are plenty of more prudent financial choices for you to make. Creating an emergency fund to help you cover living expenses during a medical crisis or to pay for a car repair is more practical than the purchase of lotto tickets.
The odds of winning are near nil
As much as we all hope to beat the odds, the chances of winning the lottery or even winning just enough to make your initial investment back are slim. You’re more likely to naturally have quintuplets than win the jackpot; five times more likely, to be exact. It’s not a financially savvy move to buy lottery tickets, but if you take your chances with those infinitesimal odds, make sure you don’t put it on your credit card.
The bottom line
While there are some states where you can buy lottery tickets with a credit card, it’s a good idea to avoid it. If you play the lotto even with these precautions in mind, pay in cash or with a debit card — and keep it to a rare expense instead of a daily or weekly habit.
With all the money you’ll save by not buying lottery tickets, you could go on a vacation or build a robust savings account to put toward other financial goals.
Some states outlaw lottery ticket purchases with cards. Even if your state allows it, think twice.