Wednesday, November 01, 2006

"You don't have to pay to Play" series

Congratulations, it's your lucky day! You've just won $5,000! You're guaranteed to win a fabulous diamond ring, luxury vacation or all-terrain vehicle!

If you receive a letter or phone call with a message like this, be skeptical. The $5,000 "prize" may cost you hundreds of dollars in taxes or service charges - and never arrive. Your "fabulous" prize may not be worth collecting. The diamond is likely to be the size of a pinhead. The "vacation" could be one night in a seedy motel, and the ATV, nothing more than a lounge chair on wheels!

Scam artists often use the promise of a valuable prize or award to entice consumers to send money, buy overpriced products or services, or contribute to bogus charities. People who fall for their ploys may end up paying far more than their "prizes" are worth, if they get a prize at all.

What these people are likely to get - especially if they signed up for a contest drawing at a public place or event - may be more than they bargained for: more promotions in the mail, more telemarketing calls and more unsolicited commercial email, or "spam." This is because many prize promoters sell the information they collect to advertisers.

Worse yet, contest entrants might subject themselves to a bogus prize promotion scam. So the moral of the story is if ANY company asks you to send money or asks for your credit card information DON'T DO IT.

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