To ensure that you don't receive telemarketing calls, you might be tempted to omit your phone number or to enter a fake number. However, this can have a serious drawback - many sweepstakes notify their winners by telephone. If you don't have a legitimate number that sponsors can use to reach you, you might be passing up some excellent prizes. Luckily, there are some easy alternatives that allow you to be reachable without using your home phone number.
First Alternative - Get a VoIP Phone NumberVOIP phone numbers are really nifty. They are basically a way of using the internet to communicate by telephone, and they offer many useful features that are helpful to sweepers.
Advantages of a VoIP Telephone Number:
- You can block certain numbers from reaching you, which is very useful if you are being bothered by a telemarketer who just won't leave you alone.
- You can have your calls forwarded to your home, work, or cell phone number. Let sponsors reach you wherever it's most convenient for you.
- You can receive a special message when your call is being forwarded from your sweepstakes number. Know instantly that this call is sweepstakes-related.
- Have messages forwarded to your email address. When you can't get to the phone, this feature lets you pick up your messages easily, even on the road.
- See who called, even when they didn't leave a message. Some sponsors won't leave messages on an answering machine. Instead, they'll call a certain number of times and then move on to the next potential winner on their list. By checking who called and didn't leave a message, you will know to be more alert to catch them the next time they try.
- See more VOIP features from the About.com Guide to VOIP.
Disadvantages of a VoIP Phone Number:
- Usually you have to pay a monthly fee for this service.
Where to Find a VoIP Phone Number:
- The About.com Guide to VoIP has reviewed the Top 5 VoIP Providers
- I have personally had a good experience with FreedomVoice.com. They provide a wide rage of features for a reasonable monthly fee, but some sweepstakes won't let you enter with a toll-free number.
- Skype also offers phone numbers for a reasonable fee.
- About.com's Guide to Google reviews Google Voice, which is free but has a waiting list to join the service.
Second Alternative - Get a Free Voice Mail NumberA second, less ideal, way to keep your home number free of telemarketing calls when you enter sweepstakes is to use a voice mail number. These numbers are often provided free of charge, but they don't ring at an actual telephone. Instead, they go directly into voice mail, where you can check your messages by phone or email.
Advantages of a Voice Mail Box Telephone Number:
- It's easy to get one for free.
- You have the chance of receiving a message from a sponsor.
Disadvantages of a Voice Mail Box Telephone Number:
- Many sponsors do not leave voice messages for winners. So you are not as sure of getting your prizes as you are with a VoIP number.
Where to Find a Free Voice Mail Number:
- K7.net is a free service that I have used without trouble.
- Laser Voicemail is a free service, but you have to check it at least once every seven days, you can't store more than 20 messages, and you have to listen to advertisements sometimes.
Third Alternative - Use a Disposable Phone NumberThe third alternative is to use a disposable phone number. These numbers are designed to let you safely give your contact information to people like potential dates, but they're great for sweepstakes sponsors as well.
The idea is that you can give out the disposable number, and it forwards to your real cell- or home phone number. If someone starts to bother you, you can stop using it and simply pick up another.
Advantages of a Disposable Telephone Number:
- You can forward a disposable telephone number to your cell, to your work or home numbers, to a friend's phone -- wherever you want to be reached.
- Sweepstakes sponsors can reach you as easily as with your regular number.
- If you start to receive too many marketing calls, you can just get rid of the number and use a new one.
Disadvantages of a Disposable Telephone Number:
- There is usually a small fee to use these types of services.
Where to Find a Disposable Telephone Number:
- Hushed.com offers a free number with a limited amount of calling time (perfect for sweepstakes, since you don't have to pay if you don't get calls).
- Burner is an app for Android and iPhone cell phones that lets you give out disposable numbers for your phone. Installing the app is free, and you get one free burner number to try out the service.
Using a dedicated number for your sweepstakes entries is a great way to cut down on telemarketing calls at your home phone number, while reducing your chances of falling for a sweepstakes scam. Any so-called win that does not come from your sweepstakes phone number is obviously a scam.
Best of all, these numbers are disposable. If you start receiving too many calls that you do not want to receive, you can simply shut down that number and start a new one. Problem solved!