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FTC: Lottery Scams



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Here are the answers to the most common questions.


Multi-State Lottery Association


POWERBALL 7.0 BEGINS OCTOBER 7, 2015

HIGHER JACKPOTS; MORE OVERALL WINNERS

The number of white balls rises to 69, while the number of red balls drops to 26. This change means higher average jackpot won and more overall winners.

POWER PLAY CHANGES OCTOBER 7, 2015

Power Play changed October 7, 2015. If you buy the extra $1 Power Play add-on option, you still have a chance to double your Match 5 prize ($1 million jumps to $2 million), and you still have a chance to multiplier all lower prizes by 2X, 3X, 4X, or 5X. But now, you also have a channce to multiply these lower prizes (bottom seven prize levels) by 10X whenever the jackpot is $150 million or less.


WHAT ARE THE WAYS TO WIN?

You can see a chart here: http://www.powerball.com/powerball/pb_prizes.asp


DO I HAVE TO MATCH THE NUMBERS IN THE EXACT ORDER DRAWN?

No (except for the red ball number). The tickets print the white ball numbers (the first five numbers) in numerical order. You can match the first five white ball numbers drawn in any order. The red Powerball number on your ticket (the last number, often behind a "PB") must match the red Powerball number drawn. You cannot criss-cross lines to match numbers. You cannot use numbers on other tickets or the tickets of a friend or even a close relative.


WHAT DOES POWERBALL COST TO PLAY?

POWERBALL costs $2 for a single play for one drawing. To add the Power Play multiplier, it costs an additional $1 for each play. You can learn more at:

http://www.powerball.com/powerball/pb_howtoplay.asp


WHERE CAN I WATCH THE DRAWING?

Powerball draws can be seen on hundreds of TV stations nation-wide. It may also be available on cable or your mobile device. And we post the draws on YouTube and on our site. Check here:

http://www.powerball.com/powerball/pb_stations.asp


MY NUMBERS ARE: XX-XX-XX-XX-XX-XX; DID I WIN?

Please go to our winning numbers page to check:

http://www.powerball.com/powerball/pb_numbers.asp


HOW DO I CLAIM MY PRIZE? CAN I CLAIM OUT OF STATE?

You can generally claim a prize of under $600 at any retailer in the state where you bought the ticket, but be advised that some retailers will not carry the cash needed to pay higher prizes. Sometimes, a convenience store that has safety concerns may not carry the cash. In a few places, there are "super retailers" that can pay up to $25,000.

You do NOT have to cash the ticket at the same store, but you do have to cash the ticket in the same state. You can also claim any prize - and prizes over $600 - at the state lottery headquarters. You can even claim winning tickets by mail. Click on a state at the map link below to find the address and possibly a claim form:

http://www.powerball.com/powerball/pb_map.asp


WHERE CAN I FIND OLD NUMBERS?

You can search for a particular set of numbers over a specific period here:
http://www.powerball.com/powerball/pb_nbr_search.asp
This is useful if you buy the same numbers for a long period of time and want to see if they’ve ever won.

You just get a list of numbers here:
http://www.powerball.com/powerball/pb_nbr_history.asp
This is useful if you do NOT buy the same numbers each time and just need to find the historical numbers drawn last month, last year, etc.

Look around the numbers page:
http://www.powerball.com/powerball/pb_numbers.asp
There is a lot of information available there. Click on all the links. There is a “frequency” link and much more information.


CAN I BUY POWERBALL TICKETS THROUGH THE INTERNET?

Some state lotteries do sell TO THEIR RESIDENTS through the Internet but not across their state line. Powerball tickets can only legally be purchased at a state lottery sales terminal in the lottery jurisdictions that sells the Powerball game. A lottery can also legally sell tickets on the Internet, but only to persons within its own state. No one can sell lottery tickets by mail or over the Internet across state lines or the U.S. national border. No one except the lottery or their licensed retailers can sell a lottery ticket. No one.

Law prevents the SALE (exchange of consideration) of any interest in the outcome of a gambling event. If you are not buying from a licensed retailer in the state or from the state lottery site (within the borders of that state), then you should not expect to be able to collect your prize. There are no regulations of websites that claim to sell tickets or to sell you a "service" to buy and hold tickets for you. Many lotteries believe that they would violated state and federal laws is they paid on those tickets purchased (if actually purchased) by an unlicensed reseller.


CAN I PLAY POWERBALL FROM OUTSIDE THE STATE OR THE U.S.?

No.


CAN A NON-RESIDENT WIN POWERBALL?

If you legally purchase a Powerball ticket, you can play the game and you can collect prizes. You do not have to be a citizen or a resident to play the game. You can be a tourist. That said, some states do have rules that seem to imply that a winner must produce evidence of citizenship or a federal SSN, but there are other ways to hold back taxes for a winner who does not have a U.S. SSN. Occasionally, some state lawmaker talks about limiting wins to U.S. citizens, but no laws have passed so far.


ARE SUBSCRIPTIONS, FUTURE PLAYS, OR MULTI-DRAWS AVAILABLE?

Subscription plays are off-line purchases that usually include an automatic payment or repurchase option. They may be offered for up to one year. Federal law prohibits the sale of this type of purchase across a state line, since it involves automatic purchases. Several Powerball states do offer subscription sales and more are coming, but you do have to be a resident of that state (and use a local address) to buy a subscription play. You can check the web sites for those states to play by subscription.

Multi-draws can be purchased by anyone (of legal age) at the retailer terminal in the lottery jurisdiction and can be carried out of the jurisdiction (unless there is a law in your jurisdiction against possessing a lottery ticket). The number of multi-draws varies by state. Here is the most recent list that we have (note that one week is two draws). These can also change from time to time. Arizona-5 weeks; Arkansas 10 weeks; California-5 weeks; Colorado-13 weeks; Connecticut-13 weeks; DC-10 weeks; Delaware-5 weeks; Florida-26 weeks; Georgia-13 weeks; Illinois-7 1/2 weeks; Iowa-5 weeks; Idaho-5 weeks; Indiana-5 weeks; Kansas-7 1/2 weeks; Kentucky-8 weeks; Louisiana-10 weeks; Maine-10 weeks; Massachusetts-7 1/2 weeks; Maryland-7 1/2 weeks; Michigan-30 weeks; Minnesota-7 weeks; Missouri-7 1/2 weeks; Montana-12 weeks; Nebraska-12 weeks; New Hampshire-10 weeks; New Jersey-4 weeks; New Mexico-5 weeks; New York-13 weeks; North Carolina-13 weeks; North Dakota-4 1/2 weeks; Ohio-5 weeks; Oklahoma-5 weeks; Oregon-13 weeks; Pennsylvania-13 weeks; Rhode Island-13 weeks; South Carolina-10 weeks; South Dakota-4 1/2 weeks; Tennessee-5 weeks; Texas-5 weeks; Virgin Islands-5 weeks; Virginia-13 weeks; Vermont-10 weeks; Washington-5 weeks; Wisconsin-4 weeks; West Virginia-12 weeks.

Future plays are used to make a purchase for a drawing at some time in the future - skipping draws until that future date. Futures draws are not available in all jurisdictions. Check with your local lottery. You can check the map for links to your lottery:

http://www.powerball/powerball/pb_map.asp


DO POWERBALL TICKETS EXPIRE?

Yes, ticket expiration periods vary from state to state - from 90 days to one year. The back of your ticket will often give the expiration period for your state. If it is not on the back of your ticket, check with your state lottery.


WHAT TIME AND WHERE IS THE DRAWING?

The drawing is held at 11:59 p.m. Atlantic Standard Time; 10:59 p.m. Eastern Time; [9:59 Central; 8:59 p.m. Mountain; 7:59 p.m. Pacific] in Tallahassee, Florida. If your location does not go to Daylight Savings Time, then the draw show time will change.

Occasionally, the multi-state lottery games go on the road and are drawn during special events around the nation.


WHEN ARE SALES CUT-OFF?

Sales cut-off times vary by state - from one hour before the draw to two hours before the draw. For specific state lottery information, you can click on the state lottery web site through this map:

http://www.powerball/powerball/pb_map.asp


CAN INDIVIDUALS IN A GROUP CHOOSE CASH AND ANNUITY?
CAN INDIVIDUALS IN A GROUP DIVIDE THEIR SHARE UNEQUALLY?

An individual lottery may have rules about how they will pay a winner (how many checks; how many winners to process, etc.) but we can handle any request to divide the prize payments. We can divide the prize however the individuals in a group wish, including different requests for cash or annuity.


CAN I REMAIN ANONYMOUS WHEN I HIT THE JACKPOT?

All but a handful of states (DE, KS, MD, ND, OH for now) have laws that require the lottery to release the name and city of residence to anyone who asks. Some states are considering anonymous claims. Some states are considering a one-year period of anonymity to give the winners time to get used to their new lifestyle. Other states may offer to assist you in some way, including such things as the creation of trusts. But generally, you will want to hire an attorney to review the laws in your state to see what options you might have. Check with your state lottery to see if photos or more are required. Even if the you can keep your identity secret from the press and the public, you will have to be known to the lottery - so they can confirm that you are eligible to play and win.


WHAT HAPPENS TO UNCLAIMED PRIZES?

Unclaimed prizes, including a state's share of jackpot sales, are kept by the lottery jursidiction. About half of the lotteries are required to put the money back into a game. The other half is required by law to turn the money over to the state's general fund. If a jackpot is unclaimed, the money must be returned back to all lotteries, in proportion to their sales for the draw run. The lotteries then distribute the money as they are required by law - back into other lottery games or back to the state's general fund.


WHAT HAPPENS IF AN ANNUITY PRIZE WINNER DIES?

The estate will handle the lottery prize. A lottery annuity prize is just like any other asset. You can pass any remaining annuity payments on to your heirs or to anyone else. The Powerball game will even cash out an annuity prize for an estate. This may make it easier for the estate to distribute the prize. It also may be necessary to cash out the annuity to pay Federal estate taxes. We will sell some or all of the securities at competitive bid or will even just transfer the securities to the estate. We do not charge a fee of any kind.


HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO GET MY MONEY?

It takes up to two weeks to collect the cash from the stores around the nation. If you go to the lottery to claim your prize after that two weeks, then, in many states, you can generally have the jackpot money (all cash or the first of the annual payments) hit your bank account the next day - maybe the following day if you come to the lottery office very late in the day. Some lotteries must work through the state system and that can delay the payment.


I NEED TO CHANGE MY ADDRESS OR UNSUBSCRIBE.

Go to this link http://www.powerball.com/players/pb_club.asp


I GOT AN EMAIL SAYING THAT I WON THE LOTTERY; IS IT LEGITIMATE?

NO. It is a common scam. You never have to send money to collect a legitimate lottery prize. You should never reply to these emails. You should never send money to these people. It is best not to respond or you can be put on a list to receive other scams.

Go to this link to see some common lottery scams - your exact sample may not be there, but it is still a scam; the scammers keep changing things a bit:
http://www.snopes.com/crime/fraud/lottery.asp
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lottery_scam

For a list of common Internet scams, try clicking here: http://www.powerball.com/Common-Scams.asp

You can also file a complaint with the U.S. government at: http://www.ic3.gov


Is Powerball giving away prize money on Facebook?

No.

Facebook users are reporting that they are receiving notices from "friends" indicating that Powerball is giving away prize monies through Facebook, with links of information to "claim their prize".

These notices are false and fraudulent. The persons behind this fraud are attempting to gain personal information or payment of fees; if a Facebook user clicks on the links they may have their Facebook accounts hacked, perpetuating the false notices to that users' "friends".

Powerball does not contact prize winners through Facebook, and lotteries do not charge fees to claim Powerball prizes.

If you have questions or believe your Facebook account has been hacked, please contact Facebook.
WHICH HAS THE BETTER CHANCE OF WINNING: COMPUTER PICKS OR PLAYER PICKS?

About 70% to 80% of purchases are computer picks. About 70% to 80% of winners are computer picks. Perhaps just one of those weird coincidences?


WHY IS THERE A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE CASH PAYOUTS IN THE POWERBALL AND MEGA MILLIONS GAMES?

There used to be a larger difference between the two games, but the Mega Millions game was recently changed to mirror the Powerball annuity option. The difference (spread) between the cash and annuity jackpots amounts are now about the same. Both games offer an annuity that pays out in 30 payments over 29 years (the first payment is immediate). Both annuity options are graduated. Any difference will be the result of investement choices. Mega Millions is invested in U.S. government strips. Powerball is invested in a couple dozen types of securities; all backed in some way by the U.S. government or agencies. It is important to understand that the lottery is invested in these securities; not the winner. The winner has a contract with the states to pay the annual prize payment, no matter what happens to the securities.

A fixed percentage of every Mega Millions and Powerball ticket sold goes into its CASH jackpot. The cash jackpot is all the money that the lottery has on hand from the sale of tickets in the game. If a player chooses the cash option, then the lottery will pay the entire cash amount to the winner (less income tax withholding amounts required by federal and state laws).

U.S. lotteries offer an ANNUITY jackpot option that can help reduce taxes and offers the winner a 100% guaranteed income stream over time. If a winner elects the annuity option, then the lottery will invest the entire cash amount BEFORE taxes are deducted. The difference between the CASH jackpot and the ANNUITY jackpot is the interest earnings that build over time.


IS THE CASH AMOUNT THE JACKPOT AMOUNT AFTER TAXES?

No. taxes generally apply to both the annuity or the cash option. When someone wins the jackpot and wants cash, we give them all of the cash in the jackpot prize pool. If the winner wants the annuity, we invest the cash to fund the annuity payments. The winner gets the cash plus the interest earned. When you see an estimated jackpot annuity prize, we are estimating both sales and what the market's prices on certain securities will be. The annuity jackpot amount and the cash jackpot amount that we announce are always estimates until sales are final and, for the annuity jackpot, until we take bids on the purchase of securities.

Federal and State Income tax apply to whatever income you actually receive in a given tax year, whether it is wages or lottery prizes. If you take the cash amount (say $50 million), then you pay income tax on $50 million) - most of it at the highest tax rate. If you take the annuity (say $100 million), then you pay income tax on the money you actually receive each year - moving more of the money to lower tax rates. Just like your wages, a withholding amount is required to be taken out immediately. The lottery will send you a W2-G form and you figure your actual tax at tax time.


Still have questions? Please contact your state lottery directly, as they will be able to provide you with the most pertinent information for Powerball in your state.

http://www.powerball/powerball/pb_map.asp

   
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