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Sandra Grauschopf

Date of Birth on Sweepstakes: What Do You Think?

By February 20, 2008

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I recently received a very good comment about sweepstakes that ask for the date of birth of their entrants in order to allow entry. In the Contests Forum, NoDOB writes:
Why should a company care what my actual birth date is when entering contests? Why not just give a date by which you must be 18, or whatever the age the minimum for the contest is. At the very most, just ask a year of birth. My birth date is used by other actual important places to verify that I am who I am and I certainly don't want some stupid contest form to ask me...

It was not so long ago that age ranges were used on contest forms. While I understand that this is the way the company tells what their target audience is, I don't like the fact of my birth date or physical address being a mandatory item. They are losing out on just getting any of their information to me because I frequently just refuse to enter or give false information on these areas.

Personally, I've never been overly concerned about dates of birth on sweepstakes entries. There are two reasons for this: the first is that sweepstakes sponsors have good reasons for asking for the date of birth. For example, they use date of birth to comply with sweepstakes and information gathering laws and to determine eligibility. Also, the birth dates of the entrants help them to get a better understanding of the people that they are reaching with their promotions, which allows them to target their advertisements to be more successful for them and more attractive to the people who enter their sweepstakes.

The second reason is that my date of birth is part of my public record. It is not difficult to find that information; there are a number of online companies that will supply my birth date and more for free or for a small fee. Any determined identity thief would have no difficulty at all obtaining this information.

What Do You Think about Date of Birth on Sweepstakes?

I'd love to hear what you think about this subject. Do you think that asking for a date of birth is too personal? Do you avoid sweepstakes where a birth date is a required field for entry? Or do you think that the benefits of winning outweigh the privacy question, especially when the information is not really all that private? Let me know by clicking on the comment link below!

Comments

February 20, 2008 at 10:21 am
(1) irene zagar says:

I AM HAPPY TO GIVE MY BIRTH DATE. I JUST LIKE ENTERING CONTESTS THAT YOU PROVIDE.

February 20, 2008 at 11:18 am
(2) Frank Schuster says:

I think its wrong for these big companies to keep collecting more and more data on us. Just like big brother, they know everything aboiut us. Where do you think those “public” sources of information come from, they come from all of the “business reply cards” and contest entries people send in in their greedy attempts to win prizes. I’ll take the prizes thank you, but I keep my information to myself. I just lie on the forms, who cares, I never win anyway.

February 20, 2008 at 11:21 am
(3) RICHARD SPIVEY says:

I HAVE ALWAYS BEEN ANOYED WITH SITES THAT REQUIRE THE ENTRY OF THE FULL DATE INSTEAD OF YEAR OR EVEN BETTER USING A PULLDOWN TO SELECT IT. OTHERWISE, I SENSE NO INFRINGEMENT TO MY PRIVACY RIGHTS AS AFOREMENTIONED IT IS READILY AVAILABLE TO ANYONE DELIBERATELY AFTER IT.

February 20, 2008 at 12:15 pm
(4) Carol Olson says:

I am no spring chicken and sometimes the
pop-up age thing doesn’t go high enough.
I think being over 18 or 21 whatever they deem would be sufficient.

February 20, 2008 at 12:39 pm
(5) Twyla says:

Depending on your circumstances your SSN may be public record. But that doesn’t mean you need to provide it to every one who’d like it. Unless they’re planning to send you a birthday present, they don’t really need your dob. They need the year. And if within a very narry band, and only then possibly month/day. That is a little more work on the form, however since 90% plus are created by the same three companies, the investment is minimal.

Requiring the full date just gives more opportunity for the few miscreants who might sniff the data, or perhaps take a job processing the info.

Loot at the Motley Fool contest (for good money too) email address that’s all.

February 20, 2008 at 2:53 pm
(6) Marsha says:

I am willing to give them whatever information they need to pick my name!!!! :-)

February 20, 2008 at 3:36 pm
(7) Gail says:

Identity theft is on the rise. I resent giving my full birth date to corporations since it should not be necessary. The year alone is sufficient for market research, and for contests that require that the entrant be over 18, that can be verified when the prize is awarded.

February 20, 2008 at 8:10 pm
(8) Linda says:

They don’t need an exact date of birth and it is foolish to provide that info for a contest. Give them your first born too or whatever. Never volunteer personal info and dob is personal! Wake up!

February 20, 2008 at 8:24 pm
(9) JoAnn says:

I agree with those folks who say it is too much info to provide. Yes, the exact date may be available elsewhere, but people are giving away their privacy at every turn. I say, enough is enough.

February 21, 2008 at 9:27 am
(10) Jane says:

I’m very uncomfortable giving out personal information like DOB. Actual age or a range is sufficient for eligibility. Many contests sell my personal information and I don’t want my data spread all over.

April 18, 2008 at 5:03 pm
(11) lynne says:

There should be an AGE RANGE.
IT SHOULD BE AGAINST THE LAW TO ASK FOR THIS INFORMATION IN ORDER TO ENTER A CONTEST. The winners would be required to give this and other information should they win, NOT beforehand.
I wonder what corporation Sandra Grauschopf works for where she would think this is OK. It is not OK. It is wrong.

April 18, 2008 at 5:21 pm
(12) Contests says:

I don’t work for any corporation that runs sweepstakes. I just think it’s common sense to decide for yourself what information you want to give to which companies. If you feel a sweepstakes sponsor is asking for too much information, don’t enter the sweep.

In what possible way should it be illegal for a company to ask you to voluntarily provide information to you? Should it be illegal for people to ask your age in surveys? In political polls? Should it be illegal for your friends to ask your birth date? That doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. People – and companies – can ask for information, and you can decline to give it to them. People and companies can even offer a reward (like the possibility of receiving a prize) to receive additional information, and it’s up to you whether to accept that reward or not.

The furor over birth date is especially strange to me given the fact that your birth date is not protected information, and is extremely easy for anyone to get.

That’s why I, personally, am not much bothered by date of birth questions. Each person should decide for him and herself what information to provide on sweepstakes entry forms, and no one should fill out forms indiscriminately without paying attention to how their information will be used.

Before filling out any information, including checking whether it’s a legitimate sweepstakes and reading through the privacy policy.

May 13, 2009 at 12:43 pm
(13) Provost says:

Your birthdate counts as a legal signature. If so, it is a piece of information that should be carefully guarded – perhaps more so than credit card information.

May 13, 2009 at 2:22 pm
(14) Sandra Grauschopf, Guide to Contests says:

Provost, do you have any more information about that? It seems like something that is extremely easy to find out about just about anyone would be an incredibly insecure thing to use as a legal signature. I could legally sign for my entire family, just as a start. Shoe size would be more reliable as a unique identifier! ;)

May 13, 2009 at 3:30 pm
(15) Cyndi says:

I would prefer that sweeps ask only for age instead of birth date!

May 13, 2009 at 6:26 pm
(16) Joe D says:

The trouble will come on your birthday when ever single company sends you a B day greeting BTW Mine is Saturday and in a local Radio station to win a Motorcycle Wish me luck. Sorry Sandra G for not being faithful LOL

May 13, 2009 at 7:18 pm
(17) Sandra Grauschopf, Guide to Contests says:

Happy early birthday, Joe! Those local sweeps are fantastic, so I don’t blame you one little bit! :D Be sure to let us know how the drawing went, I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you :)

May 14, 2009 at 8:31 pm
(18) Jason says:

I don’t mind giving my date of birth, actually it might benefit me if everyone else had a problem with it, because if I’m the only one entering a sweepstakes I’d win ;)

I don’t think birth date is considered personal information, in common conversation sometimes people want to know your birth day, and if they know your age you can easily deduce the year. So I don’t a problem.

May 15, 2009 at 5:56 am
(19) Char says:

No, I don’t care about giving out my birthdate to sweepstakes I enter. First of all, I only enter sweeps with name brands that I trust. I don’t think Coke or Kraft is going to to anything evil with the knowledge of my birthdate, lol. Second, if I don’t feel comfortable giving out personal information, I don’t do it.
I understand the reason why promotions are run, and part of it is market research. Part of that is surveying who is buying their products so that the company can better target their advertising dollars. So it makes sense for them to want to know the age of the people buying their products/entering their sweepstakes/taking their survey’s/applying for their rebates, etc.
The only thing I wonder is if sometimes age can work against us. You never see a old person win the Phonedog game! lol

May 21, 2009 at 6:25 am
(20) Lara says:

Full DOB is known as a “key identifier” and it IS considered a medium security risk to hand out indiscriminately. Name, address, and phone number are considered low risk; social security number is considered high risk.

To say that “Any determined identity thief would have no difficulty at all obtaining this information.” (quoted from original article above)shows a lack of understanding of both information security issues and the workings of a criminal mind.

Criminals look for the path of least resistance. Burglars don’t rob houses with double dead-bolt locks and security systems; they look for houses with unlocked doors and open ground-floor windows. Similarly, identity thieves don’t go digging through public records for personal information; they prey on those naive enough to give it out indiscriminately.

Contest and sweepstakes sponsors and judging agencies do NOT need a full date of birth for someone to ENTER a contest. They might need it for a winner, but even then only depending on value of the prize.

Information gathering laws do NOT require a full DOB for contest/sweepstakes entry. They only require REASONABLE effort to ensure that personally identifying information is not gathered from those under 13 years old. Demanding a FULL date of birth is also not justified for determining eligibility or for “marketing information”.

So yes, giving out full DOB is a medium security risk for identity theft. To advise people otherwise is either naive, misleading, or both. What if a sweepstakes asked for your mother’s maiden name? They have just as little need for your full date of birth.

I find it amazing (and incredibly naive) that some people worry more about giving out an email address (which can be easily changed) or a phone number (which can be easily blocked) but think nothing of giving away a key identifier such as their full DOB.

September 29, 2011 at 11:58 am
(21) Poul says:

Shame on the About.com item that inspired this string and you have it exactly right Lara. DOB is a risk which is an overeach by marketing. Sure we love contests but the degree of privacy and security one gives up should be better known by everyone and is not just a matter of opinion. Any determined individual can do just about anything but that really is just glossing over the reason why people should boycott the practice. As others have suggested verification can be done by other means and points. THANKS!

May 25, 2009 at 11:00 pm
(22) StopUSAGiveaway says:

Any information provided on the internet is databased and anyone knowing the web knows it is permanent:
Thus, providing personal information is available to the world.
In the l990′s our government under Clinton was databasing ALL of us: apparently not the ILLEGALS whom seem to have a double standard to their right of privacy.
Everything done tracks us as citizens: the government knows more about you than you yourself.
PRIVACY if you don’t care…

May 30, 2009 at 3:26 pm
(23) Ken says:

Wow, it seems that we have a mixture of answers, some pro and some con. I agree that on the contests that you should just be able to put down your age and not your DOB. Then if you win you could provide your information on the affidavit which is notarized and sent back to them. But till they change the rules, I will continue to put down my DOB, I want to win that darn big prize. I am concerned about identity theft just as much as the next person is. But I am particular about what contests I enter. No one is forcing you to enter any of the contests, if you don’t want to put down that DOB, just think… that’s one you will not win and I might.

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