If you want to make sure 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 good number where sponsors can reach you, you might be passing up some excellent wins. Luckily, there are two easy alternatives that allow you to give a legitimate phone number without being annoyed at your home phone.
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, where 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 makes receiving your messages really easy.
- 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:
- PCWorld writes about a free VoIP phone service
- 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 NumberThe second, and less ideal, way to keep your home number free of telemarketing calls from sweepstakes entry 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 still 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. Therefore, this solution is only a partial help.
Where to Find a Free Voice Mail Number:
- PrivatePhone is a free voice mail service sponsored by NetZero.
- K7.net is a free service that I have used without trouble.
Using a separate 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!