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April 25, 2019

Can you spot a scam? 10 warning signs everyone should know.

When it comes to swindling people out of their hard-earned money, scam artists are on top of their game. Continually crafting new schemes to prey upon people of all ages and backgrounds, anyone can become a victim if caught unprepared. In just the first quarter of 2019, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reported nearly 300,000 cases of fraud nationwide. About 22,000 of those cases were prizes, sweepstakes, and lottery scams. For advice on how we can avoid the latest sweepstakes and lottery scams, we turned to Fidelity Bank’s expert on such matters, B. James, Vice President/Security-Fraud Manager.

10 Warning Signs

  1. Being a winner shouldn’t cost you money. If they want you to pay taxes or fees to receive the prize, don’t do it.
  2. Pay attention to the type of email address the sender is using. Scammers often use free e-mail accounts like Hotmail or Gmail instead of business accounts.
  3. Think back: did you even enter a contest? Scam artists may tell you that you’ve won a contest you don’t remember entering, or that they drew your name at random.
  4. They send you a large check with your Win Notice. Guess what? The check is counterfeit.
  5. They instruct you to wire money using a service that isn’t traceable such as Western Union or Moneygram.
  6. They pressure you to act quickly.
  7. They ask for bank or credit card information to receive your prize.
  8. The “win” is from a lottery, and often from a foreign lottery.
  9. They refer to you as “Sir” or “Madam” because they don’t know your name.
  10. They tell you to keep your winnings a secret because someone else might claim your prize if you don’t.

Think Rationally and Know the Facts

If you take a step back from the initial excitement you may feel from thinking your ship has finally come in, you’ll see right through these schemes. Consider this:

  • You don’t pay taxes on winnings until you file your income tax returns.
  • Why would they send you a check when they could just deduct the taxes or fees from your winnings?
  • It is illegal for a United States citizen to enter a foreign lottery.
  • Once the criminals have your information, they will share that information with other scammers, who will attempt to take advantage of you.
  • Typically, the check you receive is from a company that has nothing to do with the alleged sweepstakes.
  • Usually, the city the check is from does not match the city listed on the mailing address of the envelope in which it arrived.

Concerned? Here’s What To Do

We’re here to help. If alarm bells are going off, and you think you may have been contacted by a scam artist, reach out to us. “Always talk to your Fidelity Bank trusted advisor, no matter how ‘secret’ the letter tells you to be,” B. James advises. “Fidelity is required to follow the Bank privacy laws for all of our customers, so your ‘secret’ is safe with us. And, we are trained to help you avoid a financial disaster and heartache if someone tries to scam you.”


Fidelity Bank has multiple local branch offices throughout Northeastern Pennsylvania and the Lehigh Valley, and our full-service Client Care Center is at your service 7 days a week. Call or visit your local branch office today.