Be wary of phone calls saying you’ve won a prize.

Reader’s Digest advises all of their winners by registered mail. So if you receive a phone call saying you’ve won a prize, just ask one simple question: “Is it free?” If not, hang up.

Be suspicious if people ask you for money to claim a prize.

Swindlers often ask winners to prepay taxes, shipping and handling charges, a deposit or other bogus expenses. Don’t do it. Reputable companies do not ask you to pay to claim your prize. Prizes are free.

Never give your credit card number to collect a prize or enter a Sweepstakes.

Some unrepeatable parties ask for this information as proof of your eligibility. Don’t fall for this ruse. If you do, you’ll likely find your plastic being used to subsidize a scam artist’s spending spree.

Never send money to someone you don’t know.

Con artists ask you to wire money or send it by overnight courier, or provide bank account information so they can debit your account. Don’t do it. Never pay anything to receive a prize.

Read Sweepstakes information and entry rules carefully.

Be aware of closing dates, prize amounts and conditions limiting eligibility. Keep a sharp eye out for shady “look alike” promotions hoping to mislead you by mimicking legitimate Sweepstakes.

If you think you are the target or victim of a fraud, report it at once.

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