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I got a call today telling me I had won the Reader’s Digest sweepstakes. My prize was $5,500,000 and somehow the Reader’s Digest was able to give this money away MONTHLY!

Ok, that’s a lot of money. I had never even wished, prayed or even hoped for $5,500,000 to land in my lap. My first reaction was, “how many people actually fall for this and call them back?” My second thought was, “I wonder if there really is a Reader’s Digest sweepstakes and could they have actually drawn my name?” The likelihood of both of those things is relatively small, say miniscule. Especially since in the almost 40 years since I was first able to vote and more than 40 years since I have had a driver’s license, I have never even been called for jury duty so winning $5,500,000 probably wasn’t going to happen either.

Still, that’s a lot of money. How many people could I help with that amount of money or even with what was left of it after taxes? A lot! So, of course I checked it out. It turns out you can’t win a sweepstakes you didn’t enter. Darn. There goes all my dreams of winning the lottery.

While I was checking it out, I did run across some very helpful information to share with people you love who maybe have been stuck inside for way too long either because of Covid or because of the weather. The Twelve Warning Signs of Sweepstakes Scams.

  1. A legitimate sweepstakes scam will not (generally) ask you to pay to receive your prize

  2. If the notification comes in an email, a legitimate sweepstakes won’t be using a free email account like Gmail or yahoo.

  3. You must enter to win.

  4. If you receive a check with your win notice, it may be a scam. Anything over $600 will require an affidavit.

  5. If you have to wire money or send money pack cards, it is a scam.

  6. Scammers don’t want you to have time to think, so they will make you think you have to hurry.

  7. This may seem like repetition, but a Sweepstakes scam may ask for bank or credit card information in order to receive your prize.

  8. If the win is from a foreign lottery, it is probably a scam.

  9. If the caller, emailer, or letter writer doesn’t know your name it is probably a scam.

  10. If the sweepstakes representative says they are from a government agency . . . scam.

  11. If your notification of winning comes in bulk mail . . . scam.

  12. Typographical errors or grammatical errors . . . scam.

You would think that we should all know these things, but, let’s face it, 5.5 million is a lot of money. And you don’t have to be greedy to give that a second thought. But do give it a thought. Check it out. Look carefully. And share this with someone who may be bored or in some way or for some reason may be susceptible to being taken advantage of.

Finally, remember that we here at the Crossroads Group are here to help. If you know someone who may be in financial distress, or living in their house on borrowed time because of the pandemic, please ask them to reach out to one of us. There are no magic pills. We can, however, offer information and potentially help.

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