National Consumer Protection Week

Scammers are on the lookout for new deceptive tricks to line their pockets with your cash, and they’ll use every technique in their arsenal to lie, cheat, and bully their way into your pockets. It’s up to you to protect yourself and loved ones from these criminals, but you’re not alone in the fight.

This week is National Consumer Protection Week, a time dedicated to raising consumer awareness about the tactics scammers might use to steal your hard-earned money, and how to prevent them from doing it.

The Postal Inspection Service has developed the website to provide you with the tools you need to defend yourself against fraud. The website contains detailed information on a variety of fraudulent schemes including foreign lottery and sweepstakes scams, elder fraud, and how to report fraud.

The Federal Trade Commission also has a website at that contains free consumer protection education materials, articles on the latest scams, and links to helpful resources.

Elderly residents receive tips on avoiding scammers

Lottery scam

During a recent special presentation at the Metcalf Senior Citizens Center in Anaconda, MT, Anaconda Postmaster Tom Hansen and Postal Inspector Walt Tubbs discussed the dangers of foreign lotteries and sweepstakes scams. They informed the audience that no legitimate lottery or sweepstakes will ever ask for money in order for someone to receive his or her winnings.

Scammers may ask for an upfront payment to handle taxes or insurance, but they also might request a person’s social security number, bank account information, or other personal data that can be used against the target of the scam.

“Never give out your personal information to anyone you don’t know,” said Hansen during the presentation.

Hansen and Tubbs also warned the audience about the dangers of online classified ad scams. In it, the scammer offers to buy an item that a seller has listed on a site such as Craig’s List. The buyer sends the seller a check for more than the asking price of the item. The scammer then asks the seller to cash the check and wire back the difference. By the time the seller finds out the buyer’s check is a fake, the scammer already has the seller’s money.

The presentation at the Metcalf Senior Center provided attendees with the tools and knowledge they need to protect themselves against scams and how to report scammers to law enforcement.

Fake Lottery Winnings Boon to Scammers

Fake lottery winnings

Vigilance is the eternal necessity of avoiding scams. With each passing year, arms-length robbers enhance their tricks to separate victims from their money in new and creative ways. Sometimes, they simply adapt an old classic to cater to a new generation.

In the continuing saga of fake lottery scams, scammers are currently sending enticing letters to hard working people across the country, hoping to dupe them out of their money. The letter claims that the targeted person has won a $2.2 million lottery. To receive the winnings, the letter requests that the individual mail back an enclosed form as well as a $20 validation fee to process the payment.

Hundreds of identical letters have been reported across the United States with origins tracing back to a foreign country. The requested amount for verification is intentionally small, encouraging more people to take a chance on the legitimacy of the lottery with only a small amount of money at stake. However small the amount, a scammer should never be rewarded for their illegal ventures.

Whenever a letter arrives in the mail claiming that a person has won a prize from a lottery they never entered, it’s probably a scam. Never send money to an agency, lottery organization, or foreign lottery office requesting money to release lottery winnings. No legitimate lottery will request funds from the winner prior to prize disbursal.

Stay alert to these types of scams to avoid becoming the next victim.

You’ve Won! Then Again, Maybe Not…

Foreign lottery scam

Winning a lottery isn’t something that occurs often for somebody, but when the words “you’ve won” appear on a mail piece or are heard by a faceless person over the phone, a persons pulse tend to pick up the pace. When that eagerness and overwhelming sense of joy sets in, pause and take a deep breath. The win may not be everything it appears to be.

A foreign lottery scam will attempt to create excitement and a sense of urgency in a victim. It will lure the person in with the promise of a large sum of money, and will require a small sum in advance for fees and taxes. There’s only a small window of opportunity in which to claim a prize, and the victim will usually be asked to send the con artist money through a wire transfer or cash sent through the mail.

Several red flags alert the potential victim that the lottery win is a scam. First, unless you’ve specifically entered a foreign lottery, it’s almost impossible to have won a prize from one. Foreign countries aren’t in the habit of giving away money to random people in the Unites States. Second, a lottery win that requests money before you can receive the prize is probably a scam. No legitimate lottery should ask you to pay for fees and taxes up front before you receive the prize. Third, if you’re being pressured into sending money quickly before the opportunity expires, the request reeks of a scam. A legitimate lottery official won’t pressure you to send money immediately to avoid forfeiting your prize.

More than $42 million has been lost by Americans in the last three years to foreign lottery scams. Learn to recognize tell-tale signs that a lottery award is not what it appears to be by going to

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