Winning Lottery and Sweepstakes Tips: What To Do When You’re a “Winner”

Holding the winning ticket is very exciting, but that excitement can lead you to do things that can jeopardize your identity and a whole lot more. It pays to be extra-cautious.

1. Don’t pay to collect sweepstakes winnings. Legitimate lotteries and sweepstakes don’t require you to pay insurance, taxes or shipping and handling charges to collect your prize.

2. Don’t wire money through companies like Western Union, and don’t send a check or money order by overnight delivery—something scammers often push you to do.

3. Lookalikes aren’t the real thing. Disreputable companies sometimes use a variation of a governmental or nationally recognized name to try to confuse you and instill confidence in their offers.

4. Consider whether you played the lottery or entered a contest in the first place. If you don’t remember buying a ticket or submitting an entry, then it’s safe to assume the winnings are bogus.

5. File a complaint with the FTC, if you think you’re being scammed. Visit or call
1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). Send a copy of your complaint to your state attorney general’s office.