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Powerball Lottery

Your long, long odds of winning the Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes

Your long, long odds of winning the Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes

Vincent wants to know how he can tell the difference between real lotteries and scam lotteries. Easy: Real lotteries have winners.

OK, that’s true, but it’s not a full answer. And Vincent raises a legitimate issue: How can consumers protect themselves from lottery rackets while still taking a chance on a legitimate windfall?

The Federal Trade Commission says it received almost 150,000 complaints last year about questionable lotteries, sweepstakes and prizes. You undoubtedly have gotten numerous emails that have raised red flags.

Typically, a notice will inform you that you’ve won some foreign lottery — a Canadian sweepstakes, for example — and all you need to do is...

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