We know about the Nigerian lottery scams, promising $1 million in an unsolicited e-mail.
And Publishers Clearing House has warned us it doesn't announce winnings in e-mails.
Now the Florida Lottery wants you to know that an e-mail circulating nationwide is the latest tactic by scam artists to coax you out of your personal information and potentially steal your identity. And it's no wonder the Florida Lottery is the vehicle for the scam, as it is one of the most searched on the Internet.
It's been almost three years since the Florida Lottery issued a warning about a lottery scam under its name, but this week, the agency said there is particular concern about this scheme.
The e-mail uses the name of an actual supervisor at the Florida Lottery. There is a also link to a real Florida Lottery Web site.
"This one was just different," said Jackie Barreiros, a spokeswoman for the Florida Lottery. "It was too close to reality."
The e-mail does not request you send money, but instead asks for personal information such as your name, birth date, address and Social Security number or employer identification number.
"Legitimate lotteries in this country don't operate that way," said Kevin Jackson, Hillsborough's chief consumer protection investigator. "But it doesn't surprise me that someone has come up with a new and better way to rip someone off."
Jackson said the typical lottery scams come from foreign countries and often originate in West Africa. They ask for a bank account to send money the person supposedly won and then trick the victim out of funds.
But for one to emerge within the United States, tied to a lottery agency and seeking personal information, appears unusual, he said.
"I've not really seen a lot of that," Jackson said. "This one sounds pretty specific. It can be fairly damaging if someone fell for it."
The Florida Lottery became aware of the e-mail after a call from Oregon raising questions about it.
The e-mail proclaimed, "You have therefore been approved to claim a total of US$1,000,000.00 (One Million United States Dollars) in ATM cash credited to file EAAL/8510YHI/2010."
Barreiros said the Lottery is unaware of anyone falling for the scam at this point, but urged consumers to remain vigilant about protecting their information.
So here's the Edge, courtesy of the Florida Lottery:
• The Florida Lottery will never ask for your Social Security number via e-mail.
• Buy Florida Lottery tickets only from authorized retailers. Visit the Florida Lottery Web site at flalottery.com to find a retailer near you.
• Never redeem a Florida Lottery ticket for a stranger or pay money to collect a prize.
• Do not give your credit card numbers or personal information over the telephone or via e-mail to anyone promising Florida Lottery cash prizes or memberships.
• Avoid collect telephone calls from anyone claiming to be a Florida Lottery official. And do not respond to letters, telephone calls or e-mails about a promotion or game you don't remember participating in or buying a ticket for.
Ivan Penn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 892-2332. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Consumers_Edge.