1. Opt-In Is Already Selected For You
Many times when you're entering sweepstakes, you're zipping along and filling out your information and you're already thinking about the next sweep that you're going to enter. Just as you hit submit, you realize that the check boxes for opting in to newsletters are pre-selected for you, and you've just asked for a bunch of emails.
Solution: Make sure to take the time to look over your entry form and read what agreements you are making before hitting the submit button.
2. Confusing Language in the Newsletter Sign Up
You might think that you're opting out of receiving emails, but a few minutes later, you receive a confirmation of your subscription to the sponsor's newsletter in your inbox. When you return to the sweepstakes site, you realize that you misunderstood the opt-in process, and you really did sign up.
Solution: Just as it's important to read the sweepstakes rules, it's also important to read the fine print of the opt-in section. Make sure that you understand the terminology before you submit.
3. Select Box to Opt Out, Instead of Opt In
Most of the time, you need to check a box if you want to receive emails. Occasionally, however, you'll need to check the box if you DON'T want to receive the mails.
Solution: Make sure that you read through your options carefully if you want to avoid signing up for newsletters you don't want (or if you want to be sure to receive newsletters that you do want!).
4. Entry Form Resets Options after Error
So you've read through your entry form, you've carefully opted out of receiving email, and you hit submit. The only problem is that you had an error somewhere on the form. Maybe you left out a required piece of information, or you didn't type in the CAPTCHA properly. So you fix the error, hit submit, and then start receiving emails from the company. What happened?
Solution: Sometimes entry forms don't save your opt-in information when the form is reloaded to let you correct errors (even if all of the rest of your information is already there). So even though you opted out the first time, when you hit submit the second time you've actually opted in. Take the time to look over your form every time you submit.
5. Opt-Out Box in a Sneaky Location
Sometimes you might not see an opt-in box at all. You submit your sweepstakes entry thinking that there is no newsletter option, until you start receiving them in your mail. What happened?
Solution: Sometimes the opt-in box might be in a particularly sneaky location. The one that gets me most often is when they place the opt-out section after the submit button. To avoid getting marketing information that you don't want, be sure to scroll through the entire page before submitting.
If you use Roboform, Roboform's Clear Fields option is another good way to make sure that you haven't missed any pre-filled check boxes.