SCAM ALERT: How to avoid getting scammed while betting on sports online

Are you thinking of betting on the upcoming NCAA basketball tournament? You might search online for a sports betting service. You find a website that looks trustworthy, and it may even offer an introductory bonus. You make your initial bet “risk free.”

You place a bet, and, at first, everything seems normal. But as soon as you try to cash out your winnings, you find you can’t withdraw a cent. Scammers will make up various excuses. For example, they may claim technical issues or insist on additional identity verification.

In other cases, they may require you to deposit even more money before you can withdraw your winnings. Whatever you do, you’ll never be able to get your money off the site. And any personal information you shared is now in the hands of scam artists.

One victim reported to BBB Scam Tracker: “I deposited money to put a wager for a sports game. I won the bet [and] attempted 3 times to cash out and 3 times it was declined. Spoke to their representative, and they needed a picture of my driver’s license, a photo of myself holding my ID, and a blank check from my bank. With all the run around I’ve been given, it prompted me to read their reviews. All horrible reviews of a scam. Called my credit card company to file a fraud report.”

How to avoid sports betting scams

  • Look for an establish, approved service. Look for “white-listed” sports books that have been approved by your area’s gaming commission. In the United States, ESPN has a list of where sports betting is legal.
  • Don’t fall for tempting ads. Ignore gambling-related pop-up ads, email spam, or text messages.
  • Read the fine print on incentives. Gambling sites and apps often offer incentives or bonuses to new users and around major games. But like any sales pitch, these can be deceptive. Be sure to read the fine print carefully.
  • Even legitimate sports betting sites have the right to freeze your winnings. Gambling companies can restrict user’s activity for “seeming to have an ‘unfair advantage’ or ‘irregular playing patterns,’” reports Lifehacker. Be sure to check the terms of service.