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.
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.
Scammers often target the elderly. If you fall victim to a scam, it’s unlikely you’ll ever get the money back.
Recognizing online fraud
Phony email messages sent to you to steal 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. Phony email messages may ask you to reply directly or click on a link that takes you to a fraudulent website that appears legitimate. In either case, the fraudulent email or site will generally ask you to provide sensitive information.
Here are some tips for spotting phony emails and websites:
- False sense of urgency. An email that urgently requests you to provide, confirm, verify or authenticate your personal information likely is fraudulent.
- Requests for security information. Fraudulent emails often claim that the bank has lost important security information that needs to be updated.
- Fake links and attachments. Often phony emails will contain a link or an attachment that may look valid but is 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 email (even an image or PDF).
- Typos and other errors. Fraudulent emails or websites may contain typographical or grammatical errors. The writing may also be awkward, stilted or inappropriate. The visual or design quality may be poor.
Reporting online fraud
Fraudulent emails and websites are designed to deceive you and can be difficult to distinguish from the real thing. Disguised as legitimate emails or sites and claiming to be from sources you trust, these messages and sites attempt to get you to provide personal and confidential information. You should be suspicious of any email that requests personal or account information. Should you receive such a message, assume it is a scam. Do not respond to the sender and do not, under any circumstances, provide the requested information. You may report any suspected illegal online activity to the Virginia Attorney General's office at email@example.com
React to Red Flags
React to these red flags, and you can avoid being scammed.
- If someone says you have won a lottery that you have never played, that’s a red flag.
- 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.
- If an email detailing a lottery win or promotion contains misspellings or poor grammar, that’s a red flag.
- If you are told that you need to keep your "win" confidential, that’s a red flag.
- No real lottery tells winners to put up their own money to collect a prize they have already won. If you must pay a fee to collect your winnings, that’s a red flag.
- Just because a real lottery is mentioned does not necessarily make it a real prize. Treat it as a red flag until proven otherwise. 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, that’s a red flag. Do not give them your bank account information.
- If you are told that you can "verify" the prize by calling a certain number, that’s a red flag. The number may be part of the scam. 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, that’s a red flag. Trust your gut and hang up. If you engage in conversation, your name and contact information could end up on a list that's shared with other scammers.
If you have been the victim of a fake lottery scam, or if you have received a message that you think is suspicious, click here to report it to the Federal Trade Commission. Your report can make a difference!