Legitimate Sweepstake or Scam? How to Tell Before You Enter
While most sweepstakes sites are run by legitimate companies that really do give you the chance to win amazing prizes simply by entering, there are a few bad apples in the bunch. A few sites disguise themselves as sweepstakes, but are actually just trying to get your personal information for use in spam marketing, scams, or identity theft. Here are the top questions you should ask before entering sweepstakes, to ensure that you are only entering legitimate contests and giveaways.
Legitimate sweepstakes sites will tell you how they are going to use the information that they collect from you. They should specify how your information is stored, whether it is shared with any partner companies, and how they will use that information in the future. Sometimes, this information may also be included in the rules.
Is There a Clear Set of Sweepstakes Rules?
Legitimate sweepstakes sites have rules that govern their contests, and they make those rules clear for their entrants. These rules may be many pages long, or they may only take up a sentence or two, but they should be present and easy to find. You should run from sweepstakes that have no rules whatsoever - they are clearly more interested in getting your information than in running a fair contest.
Does the Giveaway Follow Basic Sweepstakes Laws?
Legitimate sweepstakes follow the basic laws that govern contests and giveaways by making it clear that you have not won before you enter, by not charging a fee to enter (except in the case of some creative contests), and by having a reasonable way to enter. Some signs that a sweepstakes site is not legitimate include requiring proof of purchase without an alternate entry method, charging an entry fee, and promising you better chances to win if you make a purchase.
Does the Sweepstake Require a Reasonable Amount of Information?
It's perfectly standard for legitimate sweepstakes sites to ask you for information such as your name, address, date of birth, email address, and telephone number. However, they should never require that you enter financial information such as a credit card number, bank account number, or social security number in order to enter to win.
If you do win a prize, you may be required to reveal your social security number, but this should never be asked on an entry form.
Is There a Legitimate Company Behind the Sweepstakes?
Legitimate companies run sweepstakes in order to promote their products, websites, or services. If you cannot tell who the sponsor is or what they are promoting, you should be extremely wary of the sweepstakes. Some legitimate sponsors do create separate websites for their giveaways, but they should make it clear who is hosting the sweep and why. If you cannot find any sign of a company behind a sweepstake, this is a sign that the giveaway is really an attempt to scam you out of personal information.