Contests and sweepstakes are a very popular option for companies to use in order to build excitement about a new product, bring in new customers, or even just to get their name out there. The best part for you is that they require very little enter and you could walk away with a huge prize just for taking 2 minutes to sign-up!
It almost sounds too good to be true. The problem is, sometimes it IS. Scammers know it is all too easy to get people excited with news about winning a contest or sweepstakes, just to steal money or personal information when they come to collect. But don’t worry! We have put together the top 4 ways to tell if the contest you just won is real or fake.
1. Did You Sign Up For It?
This is the first thing to check when you get a notification about winning a sweepstakes – did you sign-up for this? Companies will always ask you to complete a registration when they begin a sweepstakes offer so they know whose in the running for the grand prize, and so they know how to reach you in the event that you win. If you do not recognize the name of the contest you just won, it is most likely fake.
We get it, signing up is easy and your chances of winning are low, so many people sign up for a ton of different sweepstakes just to increase their odds. A tip from the pros – always write down the name of each contests you joined in one location, so you can easily check if you get news about winning. If you don’t see the name of the contest telling you you’ve won, delete the email and move on.
2. Does the Contest Have a Clear Set of Rules?
Every legitimate sweepstakes offer will have a very clear set of rules that can be easily viewed when you are registering. Companies need to know that the people signing-up are real, and need to have real information in order to send the winner their prize.
If you find yourself signing-up for something that asks you to register, but does not explain how the contest works, exit out of the window and don’t look back. This usually means they are going to use your information to put you on a list, or send you a fake winner notification to squeeze more out of you. Which brings us to…
3. Are They Asking For Sensitive Information After You’ve Won?
This is a very common trick from scammers. After telling you about the prize you’ve just won, they then ask you to pay a tax, send a check, or supply your banking information to complete the contest. This is not how contests work. For many sweepstakes offering a physical product or a small sum of cash, all they need is your home address. For larger prizes, usually valued over $600, you may need to sign and send in an affidavit (legal document confirming important information), but you will never have to give money or bank information.
4. Can You Contact the Company Directly?
Even if you just won $50,000, the company offering the prize WANTS to pay you. It will be stated in the official rules how the prize will be paid out and delivered, and a legitimate sweepstakes offer needs to honor this. Many companies actually run into the problem of not being able to contact the winner or send the prize to a legitimate address.
If you are the winner of one of these contests, there will be clear contact information to speak to the company directly, and they should be more than happy to discuss the terms of the contest and provide proof that the contest is real.
Ready to Get Started?
Now that you know what to watch out for, it is time to start winning some sweepstakes! We have put together a list of the top sweepstakes offers currently running and will update you whenever we find more. Happy hunting!