Submitted by Jon Freeman

You get a card, call, or email telling you that you won! What have you won: A sweepstakes, lottery, or other prize of some kind.

But this is what probably happens next: the person on the phone tells you there is a fee or taxes you must first pay before getting the prize. The person will ask for your bank account information, or ask you to send money via a wire transfer, or ask you to purchase gift cards and provide the card numbers.

Any way you send it, you lose money instead of winning it. You don’t get a big prize. Instead, you end up losing the money you send , and you may get more requests for money, and more promises that you won big from scammers. All you have to do to get your winnings is to send more money. Lottery and sweepstakes scams are one of the most common consumer frauds, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Here is a tip from the FTC to avoid lottery and sweepstakes scams:

Keep your money – and your information – to yourself. Never share your financial information with someone who contacts you and claims to need it. And never wire money to or share gift card numbers with anyone who asks you to. Both payment methods are a sure sign of a scam.

To find more information about managing your finances feel free to take a look at the Gwinnett Library’s Personal Finance GCPL Guide.