State Warns Montanans of Holiday and Lottery Scams

HELENA – The Montana Department of Justice and the Montana Lottery are working together to raise awareness of holiday and lottery scams.

“For most of us, the holidays are a time to enjoy the fellowship that comes with the season,” said Attorney General Tim Fox. “Unfortunately, it’s also a time when criminals are the most active and motivated to separate you from your money. The ways scammers work to accomplish their fraudulent goals are nearly endless.”

The Office of Consumer Protection at the Montana Department of Justice reminds the public to keep an eye out for online shopping scams, identity theft attempts, and false charity solicitations, and offers shoppers the following tips:
• When shopping online, make sure that you’re up-to-date with the latest security software, web browsers, and operating system.
• Make sure that you check out sellers and conduct independent research before you buy from a seller you have never done business with.
• Before you enter your personal and financial information to make an online transaction, look for signs that the site is secure. This includes a closed padlock on your web browser’s address bar or a URL address that begins with “http” or “https,” which indicates that the purchase is encrypted or secured.
• Never use unsecured wireless networks to make an online purchase.
• Be wary of emails requesting information. Scammers may attempt to gather information by sending emails requesting that you confirm purchases or account information. Legitimate businesses will not solicit this type of information through email.
• Contact the merchant directly if you are alerted to a problem. Use contact information found on your account statement, not in the email.

One scam that tends to resurface during this time of year is the fraudulent lottery solicitation. This scam is fairly easy to spot, because real lottery personnel will not call you to tell you that you’re a winner, or ask you to send them money to cover fees. Montana Lottery Director Angela Wong says, “The most important thing to remember is if you didn’t purchase a lottery ticket, you can’t win anything. As for winning a foreign lottery, the same holds true. Additionally, federal law doesn’t permit anyone to play these types of lotteries by mail or over the phone from the United States.”

Lottery tickets can be purchased and checked at Lottery retailers across Montana. To claim prizes, winners fill out a claim form, which is then verified by Lottery officials.

If you receive a letter, email, or phone call informing you that you have won the Montana Lottery, you are advised to report it to the Montana Department of Justice’s Consumer Protection Office at:

E-Mail: [email protected]
Phone Number: 1-800-481-6896 or 406-444-4500
Mail: OCP
PO Box 200151
Helena, MT 59620

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