Prize and Sweepstakes Scams

Fraudulent telemarketers are typically aggressive, persuasive and intimidating. In one common scam that targets older adults, the telemarketer tells people that they have won a prize or sweepstakes, but they expect the person to send them money or make a purchase.

While the perpetrators of these scams are experienced in their methods, there are simple ways to detect and stop them.

Warning Signs

  • The caller says you have won a prize and then asks you to pay the shipping costs.

  • The caller asks you for personal information, such as your bank account number, credit card number or Social Security number.

  • The caller offers to send someone to your home to deliver your prize or pick up your money.

  • The caller pressures you to buy something immediately.

  • The caller does not give you their telephone number and name when you ask for it.

  • The offer simply sounds too good to be true.


  • Register your phone numbers on the National Do Not Call List website ( or call (888) 382-1222. You may register cell phones too.

  • Screen your calls through an answering machine or caller ID system.

  • Hang up the phone if you do not know the caller.

  • Never give out any personal information, such as your birth date, Social Security number or account numbers.

  • Never buy anything over the phone unless you initiate the call.

  • Do not wire money to strangers, even if they say they are a police officer.

For more information, visit the Los Angeles County Department of Consumer and Business Affairs website ( or call (800) 593-8222.  If you are outside Southern California, call (213) 974-1452.