SEATTLE — The phone rings and you’ve just been informed you’re a lucky winner of Washington’s “Shot of a Lifetime” vaccine lottery.
But be cautious of what comes next. And if you start to get an uneasy feeling during your conversation, listen to your gut.
The Washington state Attorney General’s Office is warning recipients to be wary of phony calls after Washington’s Lottery received reports of scammers attempting to use the program to extract personal information from residents.
Gov. Jay Inslee announced earlier this month that the state will give away more than $2 million in cash prizes, sporting-event tickets, tuition credits and other incentives to persuade more people to get their COVID-19 vaccines and push Washington toward its 70% goal. As of June 9, nearly 52% of all Washington residents have received at least their first dose of a vaccine.
Anyone who has been vaccinated and logged in the Washington Immunization Information System is automatically entered into the weekly drawings.
Lottery officials will primarily contact winners by phone, though they may reach out by email or text message as a final attempt.
If winners do not answer the phone, officials will identify themselves, leave a detailed message and will include information about a deadline to call back in order to validate the recipient as a winner. Those selected will have 72 hours from their initial contact to claim a prize.
Representatives may ask to confirm contact information, including home address and email, to send the official prize claim form to the winner. However, they will never ask for bank account information, Social Security numbers, or mother’s maiden name over the phone.
The Attorney General’s Office provided some examples of potential scams.
• A call or text that comes from an out-of-state number. Calls will come from state-owned phones with either 253 or 564 area codes.
• A caller who asks for your Social Security number or banking information over the phone as a condition to claim your prize.
• A caller who demands you pay a fee to claim your prize.
• A caller who is rude and pushy, and demands your personal information immediately.
• An email notification that does not come from a @doh.wa.gov. address. Official prize notification emails will come from a Washington Department of Health email address.
• An email that requires you to click on a link or open an attachment.
Residents who receive suspicious calls are encouraged to contact Washington’s Lottery directly at 360-810-2888. And if you feel you have fallen for a scam, file a complaint with the Attorney General’s Office at atg.wa.gov/file-complaint or by calling 1-800-551-4636.
The drawings take place every Tuesday in June. The drawing for the big jackpot of $1 million is July 13.