How To Spot Sweepstakes Scams

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Your giveaway dream win can quickly turn into a major hassle if the email announcing you were a winner was actually one of the many sweepstakes scams targeting the gullible. Providing your private info to the scammers compounds the problem, and this is technically being “phished,” a victim of identity theft. Being declared the winner a sweepstakes is the fantasy for many people who enter sweepstakes of all kinds. The consequences of sweepstakes scams can last for years if you are ensnared, yet the vast majority of sweepstakes are not scams, and it’s helpful to be able to recognize the small percentage which are.

Here are the most common indicators that your winning announcement email is one of the sweepstakes scams you should be wary of.

The email says you must pay something to receive the prize

Legitimate sponsors will never ask you to pay anything to receive a sweepstakes prize. Legitimate giveaways do not require you to pay a handling charge, processing fee, or any other kind of charges to receive a win. If you are asked to, it’s a sure sign of a sweepstakes scams. Occasionally, you may receive a gift certificate for merchandise that can be used to make a purchase, that cannot be used for shipping. If you won a trip, you may have to pay port fees or hotel taxes. These are not sweepstakes scams.

Likewise, sweepstakes scams prefer using services like Western Union to receive their money, because it is almost impossible to trace who received the wire.

A winning email announcement that comes from a free e-mail account is a sign of sweepstakes scams

Generally, legitimate sweepstakes sponsors notify you using a company email. Once in a while, a small sponsor may use a free email address for notifications. If you receive a winning notification claiming to be from a big company that uses a free email account like Hotmail or Yahoo!,you have just spotted a sweepstakes scam.

A winning notification from an unfamiliar sender could be sweepstakes scams

You can only win sweepstakes that you enter, although many people who enter giveaways enter so many they forget who and where they entered. If you see the name of the contest in the body of the email, you can check on them by doing a simple search at the sweepstakes site you normally enter from. If the giveaway shows up in search, it is likely not a sweepstakes scam.

You received a big check, along with a winning announcement in your snail mail

Sweepstakes scams try to fool people by sending phony checks along with their bogus win notifications. Trying to cash a fake check could subject you to a fine, and you would be subject to bank account closure. Legitimate sponsors require your signature and social security number on an affidavit before they will send you a prize worth more than $600. So if you get a check like this, tear it up because they’re sweepstakes scams.

You are pressured to immediately to collect your prize

Some sweepstakes wins are timely, such as a concert ticket giveaway or a destination trip win leaving next weekend. sweepstakes scams try to pressure you to act right away to collect a prize, being that haste benefits them. If you can see no good reason for immediate prize acceptance, then it’s most likely a sweepstakes scam.

You are asked to provide bank or credit card info to receive your prize

sweepstakes scams

Sweepstakes scams

Legitimate sponsors do not need your bank account info or your credit card number. A legitimate sweepstakes sponsor needs to process your win with your social security number, but be sure to vet the sponsor before providing. A large, reputable judging agency is a good indicator that you have been legitimately chosen as a winner, and giving them this info is essential for tax purposes and not sweepstakes scams.

A “lottery” company notifies you that you won money

If you did not buy a ticket, you did not win the lottery. The legitimate lottery doesn’t tell you that you won; you have to check the numbers yourself. If received a notification saying that you won a lottery, it’s definitely a sweepstakes scam.

Thousands of people have won amazing large prizes by entering legitimate sweepstakes, contests and giveaways. The editors of Instant Win Sweepstakes encourage you to educate yourself on spotting legitimate wins from sweepstakes scams that could rip you off.

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