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If it seems too good to be true, then it probably is.

Here, you’ll find tips on how to protect yourself when you play Virginia Lottery games and how to identify scams.

Protect Your Play

Playing Virginia Lottery games is fun and knowing how to protect yourself makes sense. Follow these Dos and Don’ts to maximize your fun and protect yourself while playing.

  • DO: Sign your ticket upon purchase. The person who signs the ticket owns it.
  • DON’T: Post photos of a winning ticket on social media before redeeming it. The photo could show information that someone else could use to claim your prize.
  • DO: Make use of self-service scanning devices available at every retail and vending location and on the Lottery’s mobile app. Don’t rely on someone else to tell you if your ticket is a winner.
  • DON’T: Place your ticket in anyone else’s hands without knowing what it’s worth.
  • DO: Check the ticket you bought before you leave the store to confirm it’s the game you want, the numbers you want and the drawing(s) you want.
  • DON’T: Send anyone money or give personal information to someone who contacts you claiming you’ve won the lottery. These types of requests are associated with fake lottery scams.
  • DO: Know the rules for claiming a winning ticket before the prize expires.

An easy way to remember how to protect yourself is by using these four short reminders: Sign it. Hold it. Scan it. Know it.

Sign your ticket upon purchase. Keep your win off social media and never give your ticket to someone else unless you want to give it to them. Use the Lottery’s scanning tools to see if a ticket is a winner. Know the rules about claiming a prize before it expires. Sign it. Hold it. Scan it. Know it.

Play Smart

How do scammers use a fake lottery win to steal from you?

  • By telling you that you need to pay a "fee" or "taxes" to collect a prize you’ve already "won".
  • By tricking you into giving them your bank account number by telling you they'll wire the "prize" directly into your account. Instead, they clean it out.
  • By sending you a real-looking check to “cover the expenses,” and telling you to send them money from your account. A week or so later, after the money is gone, your bank tells you the check was fake.

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Scammers often target the elderly.

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If you fall victim to a scam, it's very unlikely you'll ever get the money back.

Reporting online fraud

Fraudulent e-mails and Web sites are designed to deceive you and can be difficult to distinguish from the real thing. Disguised as legitimate e-mail and claiming to be from sources you trust, these messages attempt to entice you to provide various types of personal and confidential information, including online IDs and passcodes, Social Security numbers and account numbers.

You should be suspicious of any e-mail that requests personal or account information of any kind. Should you receive such a message assume it is a scam. Do not respond to the sender and do not, under any circumstance, provide the requested information.

You may report any suspected illegal Internet activity to the Virginia Attorney General's office at cybercrimeunit@oag.state.va.us.

Recognizing online fraud

Phony e-mail messages sent to you for the purpose of stealing personal and financial information are among the most common types of online fraud. Spotting these messages is not always easy and the criminals who use them are becoming more sophisticated about creating them. Phony e-mail messages may ask you to reply directly or click on a link that takes you to a fraudulent Web site that appears legitimate. In either case, they will generally ask you to provide sensitive personal, financial or account information.

Here are some tips for spotting phony e-mails and Web sites:

  • False sense of urgency. Frequently, these e-mails try to deceive you with a threat that your account may be jeopardized if not updated immediately, or that it has been compromised. An e-mail that urgently requests you to provide, confirm, verify or authenticate your personal information immediately is typically fraudulent.
  • Requests for security information. Fraudulent e-mails often claim that the bank has lost important security information that needs to be updated. They also may request that the user visit and update this information online.
  • Fake links and attachments. Often phony e-mails will contain a link or an attachment that may look valid, but are not. To check where a link would take you, move your mouse over the link and watch for the URL in the bottom bar of the browser. If the URL looks suspicious, do not click it. Do not open any attachment contained in a suspicious e-mail (even an image or PDF).
  • Typos and other errors. Fraudulent e-mails or Web sites may contain typographical or grammatical errors. The writing may also be awkward, stilted or inappropriate. The visual or design quality may be poor.
  • Generic greeting. Typically the greeting will be a generic one such as "Dear Customer", although legitimate e-mails can carry this type of greeting as well.

Tips that can prevent you from being scammed

  • If someone says you have won a lottery that you have never played, be suspicious. You can't win a legitimate lottery if you didn't buy a ticket or enter a Lottery promotion.
  • If you have caller-ID on your phone, check the caller's area code. If it's from a foreign country, that's a red flag. Also, be aware that some con artists use technology that allows them to disguise their area code; although it may look like they're calling from Virginia, they could be anywhere in the world.
  • Be suspicious if an email contains misspellings or poor grammar or if the person who called you speaks broken English.
  • If you are told that you need to keep your "win" confidential, be suspicious.
  • No real lottery tells winners to put up their own money in order to collect a prize they have already won. If you have to pay a fee to collect your winnings, you haven't won.
  • Just because a real lottery is mentioned does not necessarily make it a real prize. Someone may be using the lottery's name without its permission or knowledge.
  • If they offer to wire the "winnings" directly into your bank account, do not give them your bank account information.
  • If you are told that you can "verify" the prize by calling a certain number, that number may be part of the scam. Instead of calling it, you should look up the name of the lottery or organization on your own to find out its real contact information.
  • If you think someone on the phone is trying to scam you, hang up immediately. If you engage them in conversation, your name and contact information could end up on a list that's shared with other scammers.