CONSUMER ALERT: sweepstakes scam and pre-paid debit cards - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

CONSUMER ALERT: pre-paid debit cards and sweepstakes scam

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Madison, Wisconsin - According to the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and consumer Protection, there has been a sweepstakes scam.

Wisconsin residents have been receiving fraudulent calls telling them that they have won a sweepstakes prize from The Publishers Clearing House.

When the scammers collect the winnings, they require that an up front fee be paid with a pre-paid debit card. Actual sweepstakes prizes from The Publishers Clearing House does not charge a fee to winners.

The "winners" were directed to pick up the fee money from a Green Dot MoneyPak pre-paid debit card or from a drug store. The scammers did this because wire money and pre-paid debit cards are difficult to trace and often impossible to reverse.

The Green Dot MoneyPak web site even warns purchasers to be aware of potential scams. It states, "If anyone else asks you for your MoneyPak number or information about your receipt, its probably a scam. Don't give your MoneyPak number to pay for something you buy through the classifieds or to collect a prize or sweepstake."

When trying to decide whether or not a sweepstakes prize is a scam or not, read warnings such as the Green Dot MoneyPak warning and take it seriously.

Also, watch for urgency in phone call's regarding a contest or sweepstakes and never act upon a prize if they require you pay right away.

Furthermore,don't always believe a caller ID or use of an organization's name. Scam artists can change the ID to look more legitimate simply by using the Internet. They can call from anywhere in the world but make it look like they are calling from your area.

Lastly, if something sounds too good to be true it probably is.

For additional information or to file a complaint you can visit the Consumer Protection Bureau , send an email at datcphotline@wisconsin.gov., or call the consumer info hotline at 1-800-422-7128.

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