BBB warns of online lotto purchases

BBB has these tips if you choose to buy online lottery tickets:

Better Business Bureau

VANCOUVER, BC – North America is in a lottery frenzy. And why wouldn’t it be? The current Powerball Lottery jackpot sits at an astonishing 1.98 billion Canadian and continues to grow. At this point it is the largest jackpot in history for any lottery around the world and Canadians are flocking south of the border and online to buy the dream.

While the thought of winning enough money to buy a small country seems overwhelmingly enticing, there are things that Canadians need to know before handing over some cash. Yes, Canadians are allowed to play US lotteries but bear in mind, US winnings are subject to US taxes. Canadian lotteries by comparison are small, but tax free. The biggest problem is that the United States has no current rules or regulations around third party online lottery ticket sales to foreigners.

“The concern from our point of view is selling lottery tickets online is illegal in most US states, so what companies have done is set up a concierge service where Canadians pay for tickets and an employee technically goes out and buys your ticket for you,” says Evan Kelly, Senior Communications Advisor for BBB serving Mainland BC. “You simply have to trust they are doing this, add to the fact that winning is so remote that in effect you’re just handing someone your money and credit card information. You still don’t get a hard copy of the ticket, unless presumably if you win. Given the amount of online scams these days, this seems like one that would be very easy to set up and a simple way to collect a lot of personal information. All we are saying is be careful.”

BBB has these tips if you choose to buy online lottery tickets:

Do your research. Look for legitimate online ticket sales, read user reviews.

Social Insurance Number. While many sites ask for home address and credit card information, they should have no reason to ask for your SIN.

Use a secure website. When buying anything online look for the https:// and lock icon in the url, the ‘s’ means secure.

Make sure your PC is up to date. If you happen to fall victim to a fake lotto site, make sure your computer has the latest update to anti-virus software.

Head south of the border. If you really want to play and can manage it, drive south of the border and buy them in person.

Don’t bet the farm. Understand that winning a lottery like this is extrordinarily remote, so don’t spend a lot of money. The chances of winning are nearly 1 in 300,000,000. Statistics say you have a 25x better chance of becoming President of the United States.

Foreign lottery scams are all over the place. The ususal modus operandi is you are contacted by someone about a lottery win but you must pay a fee first to release the money. Often the victims have never entered a contest.