Consumer alert: Sweepstakes is really scam to steal your personal info


Officials warn sweepstakes is really identity theft scam

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DENVER -- A warning about information arriving in your mailbox that promises millions of dollars. It's really just a ploy to steal your personal information according to officials.

The big tan-looking envelopes have been showing up in mailboxes across Colorado.

It looks authentic with lots of markings for a professional financial institution. It's also wants you to act quick... saying you have just a few days to fill out the information and sent it back in the mail or lose your chance at millions of dollars.

Victor Bernal had a great question when he received one of the envelopes in the mail this week. "Am I really going to receive $2 million?"

The sweepstakes entry told him he had two days to return it. "It looked absolutely real; it had time sensitive dates on it."

All he needed to do was send $20 and some banking information and then they would deposit more than $2 million in his account.

Bernal knew it was too good to be true and he took the sweepstakes to the Weld County District Attorney's office instead.

Officials then put out an alert.

"They can lose everything that they have," says Weld County Assistant D.A. Michael Rourke. "Some of the scams ask for personal identifying information [like] bank account numbers and credit card numbers."

Megan Herrera of the Better Business Bureau has a warning for people receiving this and other sweepstakes scams. "They're going to want some kind of money from you or they're going to want access to your bank account. And that's not to give you money, it's so that they can steal your money."

Bernal says he's seen it happen to friends, so he was wary.

The D.A.'s office says it's all but impossible to catch the scammers. "Even if we are able to identify somebody often times they're in a foreign country."

Many times, the people who get taken are elderly.

The best advice is to never send money or give personal bank or credit card information for this kind of sweepstakes.

Instead, you're asked to file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission online so they can track it and try to keep people from becoming victims of identity theft.

Here is that link: FTC Complaint Assistant



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