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The pandemic has caused financial distress because of lost jobs, income, and homes, and emotional distress because of social isolation. This week, during National Consumer Protection Week (NCPW), we want your help to reach people who might be a bit cut off from their social network. The FTC knows that people who talk about scams are less likely to fall for them, and we hope to spark discussions by offering conversation-starting ideas. To close out NCPW, here are a few ideas to help you and the people you care about spot and avoid a “free prize” con.


Prize and lottery scams can start many ways, but they often begin with an unexpected phone call. The scammers may claim to be from the government. Or an official-sounding organization. They make wild claims about big winnings, and demand payment up front. If you get a call like this, hang up. You probably already know that. But you may know someone who doesn’t. So give a call to someone who might be a bit isolated, who could use a reminder about these scams. Chances are, they would like to hear from you, and have a chance to talk about how things are going and what’s on their mind.


Here are a few tips you can share about prize and lottery scams when you chat:

  • Legitimate contests don’t ask you to pay a fee, or give your bank account or credit card number to get your prize.

  • Never send money by wire transfer, gift card, or cryptocurrencyAnyone who asks you to pay for things that way is a scammer.

  • Don’t trust caller ID. Scammers can make it look like they’re calling from anywhere.

After you talk, invite your friend or relative to call you back if they have questions, or if they get a surprise phone call. If they say they already spotted a scam or sent money, please ask them to report to You’re welcome to file report for someone, if they ask for help.

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The purpose of this blog and its comments section is to inform readers about Federal Trade Commission activity, and share information to help them avoid, report, and recover from fraud, scams, and bad business practices. Your thoughts, ideas, and concerns are welcome, and we encourage comments. But keep in mind, this is a moderated blog. We review all comments before they are posted, and we won’t post comments that don’t comply with our commenting policy. We expect commenters to treat each other and the blog writers with respect.

  • We won’t post off-topic comments, repeated identical comments, or comments that include sales pitches or promotions.
  • We won’t post comments that include vulgar messages, personal attacks by name, or offensive terms that target specific people or groups.
  • We won’t post threats, defamatory statements, or suggestions or encouragement of illegal activity.
  • We won’t post comments that include personal information, like Social Security numbers, account numbers, home addresses, and email addresses. To file a detailed report about a scam, go to

We don't edit comments to remove objectionable content, so please ensure that your comment contains none of the above. The comments posted on this blog become part of the public domain. To protect your privacy and the privacy of other people, please do not include personal information. Opinions in comments that appear in this blog belong to the individuals who expressed them. They do not belong to or represent views of the Federal Trade Commission.

Pat C
March 05, 2021
What about offers supposedly from a legitimate business offering a prize for filling out a survey. We got scammed by a.CVS offer and I see Walgreens had the same scam.
FTC Staff
March 08, 2021

In reply to by Pat C

Scammers may use the name of a legitimate business to disguise their scheme. You can report a scam, fraud or bad business practice to the FTC at

March 05, 2021
Everyday I receive a text saying I have money someone left me or money has been placed in cash app. I immediately cancel and block them They keep coming back. I am sick and tired of these scammers.
March 05, 2021
I don't get to many calls like this, I gets mostly emails. But I don't answer none of them anyway. My phones automatic Blocks the scam calls , but NOT the emails. Thank you for the advice
March 05, 2021
I was scammed for $500.00 I was to get a package but pay for Courier to bring it. Can I get my money back? I
FTC Staff
March 08, 2021

In reply to by Shattered2

You can report fraud, scams and bad business practices to the FTC at

March 05, 2021
This is a very thoughtful idea. I think daytime talk and general entertainment shows should address this too. I am the one who would keep my mother abreast of these things but she also gets a lot of warnings about them from her shows. Many daytime shows have big audiences of elderly people who don't go online (Dr. Oz, etc) they should keep up the warnings too.
Linda S
March 05, 2021
I received a call from PCH (Publisher's Clearing House) a few weeks ago. Caller said I had won their grand prize of 3.5 million and a new Lincoln. Which color did I want, etc. I was pretty sure it was a scam so I played along, but no personal information. After the third transfer the caller wanted personal information. I went on PCH's website to see if there was a 3.5 million dollar grand. Nothing even close, So I talked over "Mr. Arrogant" and told him I was on the website and didn't see that prize amount. Then I asked him what he thought of that. Click - a hang up. I had a good laugh.
March 07, 2021
An acquaintance was scammed out of $49,000 a Publisher's Clearing House scam.
Rex King
March 08, 2021
Please! People! If it seems too good to be true, it is not true. You Never have to pay money to receive money on an honest win. And never, never, give out any private, personal information! Not bank account numbers, address, and especially not the last four of your social sec. #! If these are asked for, It Is A SCAM.
Don'thad enoug…
April 12, 2021
I’ve had enough of all these fishing texts! I’ve reset my phone. I block each number . I report every text that impersonates a federal agency or real company to the FTC and company/agency they pretend to be. I’ve reached out to verified apple support for device Help and received help. I’ve reset my phone deleted all cookies and cleared web browser history I even changed to a new browser - none Of it has done any good they keep on coming ! Advise anyone????