Warning: Powerball scam!

powerballscamWith Powerball players in 44 states ready to cash in on the largest jackpot in history, consumer advocates are warning that scammers will be looking to make money, too.

Tonight’s winning numbers for the estimated $1.5 billion jackpot will be announced at 10:59 pm ET on WPFO FOX 23 and online, but the Better Business Bureau is expecting to see scammers reach out using email, phone, and snail mail to try to trick people into think they’ve won a secondary, smaller prize.

While it’s true, you can win money with secondary prizes, targets of a lottery scam are usually asked to pay taxes or other fees upfront before they can get their winnings.

Here are BBB’s tips to avoid lottery scams:

  • Don’t pay up to claim your prize. You should never have to pay money or buy products in order to receive a prize. Be especially wary of requests to send money via wire, prepaid debit card, gift card or other unusual forms of payment.
  • Be wary of email announcements. Major sweepstakes organizations sometimes email about smaller prizes, but for big winners they usually show up at your house with a big check (and a camera crew).
  • You can’t win a contest you didn’t enter. You need to buy a ticket or complete an application to participate in a contest or lottery. Be very careful if you’ve been selected as a winner for a contest you never entered.
  • Verify — but not by using a source the scammers give you. Check if an offer is real, but don’t call the phone number in the email or website you suspect may be a scam. If it is a con, chances are the person on the other line will be involved, too.
Jon Chrisos

About Jon Chrisos

Award-winning journalist Jon Chrisos is the investigative and consumer reporter at CBS 13 in Portland. He also anchors weeknights at 5:30. Chrisos is “On Your Side” investigating the stories that make a difference in your life. He’s passionate about helping those who’ve been wronged, exposing government waste, asking tough questions, and uncovering the truth.