How to Spot a Sweepstakes Scam

sweepstakes scamA sweepstakes scam, or poorly run promotion, gives legitimate sweepstakes agencies and promotional marketing companies a bad name. Know what to look for to spot a sweepstakes scam, or a company that runs them.

Here is a list of things to look for in a sweepstakes, or game of chance, that you should avoid, or at least be cautious of:

1. Super low odds: Any sweepstakes where there will be millions of entries but only one winner may be a waste of your time. Think of the lottery – many will play and one will win – but if the odds are millions to one, the odds are not in your favor. Not all rules show odds of winning, so how can you tell if the odds are low? Look at the number of prizes. Only one prize could indicate astronomically low odds, or if multiple companies are collaborating on a prize pool, could indicate that the number of entries will be exponentially higher than in a promotion where there is only one sponsor.
2. High barrier to entry: Any entry method that requires more than a few minutes to complete can be called consideration – and consideration is what separates games of chance with games of skill, or contests.
3. Hidden free method of entry: If you can’t find a free method of entry, or AMOE, that allows you to participate in a random chance sweepstakes then that promotion is not running a legal sweepstakes. You can be a squeaky wheel and ask the sponsor where to find the free method to enter, or you can avoid that sweepstakes since the sponsors seem to care more about sales than fair play.
4. No rules: If there are no official rules then the sweepstakes is not on the level. Consider what they may be doing with your personal information if they don’t even have rules or terms explaining what they do with it. Do you really want anyone like that having your personal information?
5. Payment to “secure” your prize: Never, ever, ever give a cash or online payment to secure a prize. If someone claims you have won a prize, but needs any type of payment to send you the prize, they are scamming you. The only thing that may legally be required to confirm yourself as a winner might be a notarized affidavit (which you can get notarized at your bank or from any notary public, sometimes for free) or they may require some additional documentation or your social security number for tax purposes.

If you are thinking of running a sweepstakes or contest, make sure to put yourself in the shoes of your customers and don’t promise more than you are delivering in terms of prizes or expectations, and be sure to make it clear what you are expecting in return for someone’s entry. Make sure that you have official rules, you aren’t asking the customer to do so much work that the entry could be deemed “consideration,” that there is a no-purchase method of entry, and that the rules are within one to two clicks at all times. Contact us for help.

If you are the one entering the sweepstakes, if the call to enter sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

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