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 Top Questions to Ask to Avoid Contest Scams

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PostSubject: Top Questions to Ask to Avoid Contest Scams   Tue Nov 03, 2009 10:48 pm

Legitimate Sweepstake or Scam? How to Tell Before You Enter
While most Contest sites are run by legitimate companies that really do give you the chance to win amazing prizes simply by entering, there are always going to be a few bad apples in the bunch. A few sites disguise themselves as Contests, but are actually nothing more than attempts to get your personal information for use in spam marketing, scams, or identity theft. Here are the top questions you should ask before entering contests, to ensure that you are only entering legitimate contests and giveaways.

Does the Website Have a Privacy Policy?
Legitimate contest sites will tell you how they are going to use the information that they collect from you. They should specify how your information is stored, whether it is shared with any partner companies, and how they will use that information in the future. Sometimes, this information may also be included in the rules.

You should also be sure to read through the privacy policy, especially if you have a "bad feeling" about the contest website. Some sites will have a privacy policy, and clearly say that they will spam you and misuse your personal information.

•.•What Makes a Good Privacy Policy?
•.•Sample Privacy Policy from Bizrate Sweepstakes
•.•How to Protect Your Private Information

Is There a Clear Set of Contest Rules?
Legitimate contest sites have rules that govern their contests, and they make those rules clear for their entrants. These rules may be many pages long, or they may only take up a sentence or two, but they should be present and easy to find. You should run from contests that have no rules whatsoever - they are clearly more interested in getting your information than in running a fair contest.

•.Understanding Quebec Laws
•.Living by the Rules

Does the Giveaway Follow Basic Contest Laws?
Legitimate contests follow the basic laws that govern contests and giveaways by making it clear that you have not won before you enter, by not charging a fee to enter (except in the case of some creative contests), and by having a reasonable way to enter. Some signs that a contest site is not legitimate include requiring proof of purchase without an alternate entry method, charging an entry fee, and promising you better chances to win if you make a purchase.

Does Contests Require a Reasonable Amount of Information?
It's perfectly standard for legitimate contest sites to ask you for information such as your name, address, date of birth, email address, and telephone number. However, they should never require that you enter financial information such as a credit card number, bank account number, or social security number in order to enter to win.

Sweepstakes Entry Forms - How Much Information is Reasonable?
What Information Should I Use to Enter?

Is There a Company Behind the Sweepstakes?
Legitimate sponsors run cxontests in order to promote their products, websites, or services. If you cannot tell who the sponsor is or what they are promoting, you should be extremely wary of the contest. Some legitimate sponsors do create separate websites for their giveaways, but they should make it clear who is hosting the contest and why. If you cannot find any sign of a company behind a contest, this is a sign that the giveaway is really an attempt to scam you out of personal information.

•More About Phishing Scams
Can You Get to the Contest from the Sponsor's Home Page?
Sometimes disreputable companies will try to seem more legitimate by creating a contest site with the look of a solid sponsor. They may steal color schemes, styles, and logos to try to seem like they are approved by their target sponsor. A good way to check whether contest really originate from the reputable sponsors they claim is to check the sponsor's main web page and see if there is any reference to the sweep. Not all sponsors will advertise their giveaways on their main web pages, but most do.

Do You Have a Bad Feeling?
Some contest sites will just give you the creeps, even though you can't pinpoint exactly why. If you get a really bad feeling about a particular giveaway, just pass it by. There are more contests out there than you could possibly enter, so there's no reason to risk putting your personal information at risk if there's a chance that the giveaway is not legitimate


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