If you receive any notification of Lottery winnings or any type of check you may suspect is bogus, consider these tips:
1. Whether you have entered such a lottery. You cannot win a contest you have not entered.
2. Take note of the documents presented. A legitimate company will not send you a xeroxed winner's notification or a prize award certificate printed on a home printer. In light of the amount of money they are claiming, they should have first class printed stationery and forms. Additionally, a legitimate prize notification would be mailed first class mail, not "bulk rate."
3. Consider what they are asking you to do to receive your prize. They do not need your banking or financial information in order to send you a check. While a legitimate company may possibly need your social security number to report your winnings to the Internal Revenue Service, they will make that plain up front.
4. Check them out. It only takes a telephone call to check out the background of the business contacting you. If they are legitimate, they will make every effort to provide you with information about their company. Check with the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to see if there have been any complaints against this company (you can find these sites at myflorida.com).
5. Ask law enforcement whether they have any information on the company. Often a local agency may not have any information, but they can do some follow-up to find out what they can.
6. Never, never, never give out your banking, personal or financial information to anyone you are unfamiliar with. Do some digging into who they are and why they want it.
7. Don't be rushed into responding to the notice. If the company is legitimate, they will give you ample time to confirm their information. If they are unwilling to give you that time, be forewarned they have some motive for denying ample time.
8. Consider whether they will give you a full name for any individual you are dealing with. Often, you will only get a "Sarah" or "Mr. Fields" instead of a full name.
9. Consider whether they will give you a firm name and address for their office. If they cannot or will not do that, you are forewarned that you will not be able to find them when and if problems arise.
10. Remember that with globalization and the Internet, the individual you deal with may not be in Atlanta or New York, but may actually be in eastern Europe or Asia. Once you have become a victim, it is very unlikely you will ever be able to recover your losses.
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