For marketers, running a sweepstakes is an easy way to gather information about potential consumers. It’s also an effective way to reward current consumers for loyalty to their brand by offering a chance to win a fun prize. Unfortunately, there are people out there who are in the business of running scam promotions. So we’re here today to help you know how to avoid sweepstakes scams. Here is recent CBS News story outlining how Americans were bamboozled out of over $100 Million dollars last year.
Look for the official rules of the sweepstakes
When entering a sweepstakes, be sure to look for the official rules that clearly outlines the parameters of the promotion. Here’s what you are looking for: Sponsor’s name, eligibility, run dates, method of entry and prize details. If you don’t see the official rules listed, don’t give your information.
Don’t enter personal information
Upon entering, a legitimate sweepstakes should only ask you to provide basic information. This would include as your name, email address and sometimes phone number or zip code. If they are asking for your social security number, passport number, or driver’s license information, beware.
If you are a winner, never send money
There will never be an instance where you should be expected to pay for any type of handling fee or service charges to receive your prize. If a prize is valued over $600 you will be asked to provide a W9 form as the prize value won will be reported to the IRS and you will receive a 1099 in the January following the year you won your prize. Also, never give your banking information or credit card numbers. This will never be required for claiming a legitimate prize.
Examine the winner notification email for clues
If you receive an email from a company using a free email service such as Hotmail.com or Gmail.com, it’s quite possible it’s not a legitimate notification. Most companies running a sweepstakes will notify you from their company or their administrator’s company email addresses. Whenever Sync Marketing notifies a winner, we refer potential winners to visit the sweepstakes website where they can view the official rules to see that Sync Marketing is listed as the Administrator. It’s important to do your research.
Social Media has sweepstakes scams too
They are hard to spot, but they do exist. Scammers will set up fake Facebook and Twitter accounts with the hopes of getting you to give up your personal information. They’ve also gone so far as to impersonate Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg. The fake Zuckerberg account sends a message through Facebook Messenger congratulating you that you’ve won the Facebook Lottery. If you click the bait, you find that they will ask you to send money to claim your prize. As mentioned above, no legitimate company will ask you for money to claim your prize. Here’s a recent story on NBC News offering additional tips on how to spot social media sweepstakes scams.
Now that we’ve given you some tips on how to avoid sweepstakes scams, hopefully you will feel comfortable to enter the ones that are legit. There are thousands of legitimate companies running sweepstakes each year offering amazing prizes for the taking. You just need to make sure you protect yourself and be smart. Not quite sold? Here’s some additional information from the Federal Trade Commission. For any additional questions regarding how to avoid sweepstakes scams or sweepstakes in general, please contact us directly.