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February 1, 2013

Knowledge is Power; Don't Fall Victim to Fraudulent Scams

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If it sounds too good to be true, it’s probably a scam. The Federal Trade Commission estimates that millions of people fall victim every year to fraudulent schemes via the Internet, text message, email or telephone. In recognition of national Scams Awareness Month this February, the Missouri Lottery wants all players to be aware that scams do exist, and the best defense is to arm yourself with knowledge.
           
Missouri Lottery Security Specialist Brenda Haugen explained that, in terms of Lottery-related scams, players should be aware of several key facts.
           
“The Missouri Lottery will never request vital information such as Social Security numbers, bank account numbers, mother’s maiden name, etc., from winners over the phone,” Haugen began.
           
“Additionally, the Lottery doesn’t ask winners to provide money upfront to claim a prize, oblige a timeframe of less than two weeks to respond to or act on a ticket-entry promotion prize deadline, or enter someone into a promotion for an added bonus, or for any other reason, without their knowledge.”
           
Haugen noted that when players are in doubt, they should call the Missouri Lottery at 1-866-MOLOTTERY (1-866-665-6883), and select option two.
           
“It’s a red flag when someone is told they’ve won a prize in a contest the person doesn’t remember entering,” she added. “Lottery players will know they’ve won a prize by checking their tickets.”
           
In broader terms, the tips Haugen provided are good rules of thumb to keep in mind when communicating with any entity claiming you’ve won a prize.
           
Haugen added that to further protect players, the Lottery encourages patrons to visit the Missouri Attorney General’s website to view a list of the “top 10” scams cycling throughout the nation:  http://ago.mo.gov/consumercomplaints/topten/index.htm. On the website, visitors can also file and search for consumer complaints and access information about identity theft, the “no call” list and more.
           
If you feel you’ve been a victim of unfair or deceptive practices, help is available by calling the Missouri Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-800-392-8222.
           
“The best defense for scams is a good offense from consumers, which includes being aware that scams are real,” Haugen added. “Consumers can combat scams by always questioning something that doesn’t sound right. When it comes to the Lottery, players should call us when they’re uncertain.”

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