The scammer tries to convince you to send money or provide banking or other personal information to pay a fee or tax before you can claim a non-existent prize.
Video length: 1 minute, 44 seconds
How it works
This scam can work in a number of ways. The scammer may call you, send you an email or text message, you see a pop-up message on your computer, or receive something by mail. Often, you discover there are costs involved in claiming the prize. Or the scammer tells you that, to collect your winnings, you have to call or text a “premium rate” number (for example, a 900 number), which will result in you having to pay expensive fees.
How to spot it
You cannot win a contest unless you have submitted an entry, or someone has done so on your behalf. If a prize is legitimate, you should not have to pay any fee or tax to collect it.
Don’t be fooled by claims that the offer is legal or has government approval—many scammers will tell you this. Instead of receiving a prize, you will lose every cent you send to the scammer. And if you have provided other personal details, your identity could be stolen, too.
- Examine the terms and conditions of the offer carefully. If someone is offering you something for free or for a very cheap price, look for the hidden costs.
- Avoid texting or calling a 900 number or other premium rate number. These premium rate calls can be very expensive, and the scammers will try to keep you on the line for a long time or ask you to call a different premium rate number.
- Never send money or provide personal banking details to someone you don’t know and trust to avoid your identity being misused too. Remember: Legitimate lotteries do not require you to pay a fee or tax to collect winnings.
- Remember, you cannot be chosen as a random winner if you aren’t entered into the contest.
- How to report fraud and scams in Canada
- Deceptive prize notices
- Prize scams (Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre)
- A special prize just for you? Don’t be fooled into believing you are a sweepstakes winner
- Seniors Guidebook to Safety and Security (Royal Canadian Mounted Police)