The Virginia Lottery is warning against a phone scam targeting older people.
Callers say you've won big, tricking you into giving personal information and sending money.
They may try to get you to pay them a "fee" or "taxes" to collect a nonexistent prize. Sometimes callers try to get your bank account number, claiming they'll wire prize money into it.
The lottery rarely calls winners.
Here are tips to prevent you from being scammed:
* If someone says you have won a lottery that you have never played, be suspicious. You can't win a legitimate lottery if you didn't buy a ticket or enter a Lottery sweepstakes.
* If you have caller-ID on your phone, check the caller's area code. If it's from a foreign country, that's a red flag. Also, be aware that some con artists use technology that allows them to disguise their area code; although it may look like they're calling from Virginia, they could be anywhere in the world.
* Be suspicious if an email contains misspellings or poor grammar.
* If you are told that you need to keep your "win" confidential, be suspicious.
* No real lottery tells winners to put up their own money in order to collect a prize they have already won. If you have to pay a fee to collect your winnings, you haven't won.
* Just because a real lottery is mentioned does not necessarily make it a real prize. Someone may be using the lottery's name without its permission or knowledge.
* Never give out personal information or send money unless you verify the company's or solicitor's legitimacy.
* If they offer to wire the "winnings" directly into your bank account, do not give them your bank account information.
* If you are told that you can "verify" the prize by calling a certain number, that number may be part of the scam. Instead of calling it, you should look up the name of the lottery or organization on your own to find out its real contact information.
* If you think someone on the phone is trying to scam you, hang up immediately. If you engage them in conversation, your name and contact information could end up on a list that's shared with other scammers.
Call 800-552-9963 if you think you've been a victim of a scam.
The Federal Trade Commission has more information on fake lottery and other scams here.