We’ve all seen the email, gotten the piece of mail, received the phone call, you’ve been selected or you have won… followed by a long pitch about a product or service you have never heard of before. The idea of winning something is exciting and it is also a gamble! Registering to win something can be as simple as putting your name and email address on a website and then waiting. You might think your chances to win increase with the more contest you enter, this is just not true. Even if you win one contest the likelihood of winning anything is rare.
However there are many pitfalls to registering for a lot of contests. Your email and information can get sold and then you receive tons of spam that is unrelated to the contest you registered for. You can receive unwanted emails, calls, and mail for the rest of your life because once your information is out there; it is nearly impossible to remove it.
Now that’s not to say all contests or raffles are scams, some of them definitely have winners, but for every hundred or thousands of people who register only one person will win. Statistically speaking it’s unlikely that you might win. However some people will say, well you can’t win if you don’t play. This is true, but at what cost are you applying to win? Entering your personal information seems simple enough, but do you know where that information goes? Is it discarded, unlikely. Is it sold over and over, yes!
Knowing when you are receiving a legitimate email, letter or phone call for a prize is difficult only if you register for so many you cannot keep track. So if someone contacts you and says you’ve been selected, you might want to think twice before believing you have actually won anything.
Here are 12 signs from TheBalanceEveryday.com that the prize you just won is fake:
- Anytime the person or business contacting you requests payment to receive your prize.
- The email account that contacted you is a free email account, like Hotmail, Yahoo, Gmail etc.
- They tell you, you won something you don’t recall registering for.
- The person or company sends you a giant check for your win notice.
- The individual or company wants to send money via Western Union.
- The person on the other line is very pushy and wants you to make a decision quickly or the prize will go to the next person.
- They ask for your bank account or credit card information.
- Winning the lottery without buying a ticket.
- They do not address you by your name.
- They falsely represent a government organization to get your information.
- The notice contains spelling and grammatical errors.
- Sweepstakes scam notifications arrive by bulk mail
So it turns out the Prince from Nigeria is not only a bad speller and pushy, he needs your credit card information to confirm your identity before wiring your money Western Union for the lottery ticket from a foreign country that you have never visited and do not remember buying a ticket for and is contacting you from a Hotmail account might be a fake?!
I know this seems a bit crazy, but their target market is young people or older people. If the scammers pressure one of these two generations they have a chance of getting them to give them information to win the prize.
If you register to win a Jeep from a local car dealership, your information will remain on their mailing list, they will usually not sell it and you can always ask them what they will do with your information before you register. If you are going online and registering for every raffle or contest you find that the prize is something you might like, chances of you being contacted by scammers are high.
If you are not sure about the prize you were contacted for, get their name and phone number and ask to call them back. Consult with someone about the situation to see if it seems legit. Never NEVER give any information to a random call from someone saying you have been selected or that you have just won a prize. You should always be able to call them back and claim your prize if it is in fact a legit raffle or contest.
If you want to win the next iPhone or whatever it is that the raffle or contest has as a prize, consider what you are giving them for free and how it impacts you and your information for years to come. Is the idea of winning a $1000 new iPhone that will be outdated in a year worth your personal information being sold worldwide for years to come?