How can I avoid sweepstakes scams?

What are the best legitimate sweepstakes to enter in 2022?

Sweepstakes can be a fun, exciting and easy way to win money and prizes. But with the increase in scams online and over the phone, it’s important to know how to protect yourself from scams and fake sweepstakes.

There are definitely many legitimate sweepstakes out there. The best sweepstakes give people a chance to live their dreams with big cash payouts and amazing prizes. Unfortunately, there are also criminals who try to take advantage of peoples’ hopes and dreams, using scams and fake sweepstakes to defraud people and steal their money and identity.

In 2021, the Better Business Bureau reported a 35% increase in dollar losses by victims of sweepstakes scams during the coronavirus pandemic.

The isolation and loneliness caused by lockdowns may have made it more likely for victims to fall for fake sweepstakes scams, according to the BBB. And the damage caused wasn’t just in lost money – some victims had their identities stolen or were even tricked into committing crimes on their scammers’ behalf!

That’s why it’s more important than ever to be able to tell the difference between a legitimate sweepstakes and a scam.

Here at Sweepstakes Advisor, we’ve been committed to providing our readers with information about the best sweepstakes available for over 30 years. 

And to help you avoid fake sweepstakes and sweepstakes scams, we’ve put together a quick guide of the do’s and don’ts of sweepstaking. Read on to learn how to avoid sweepstakes scams and find the best, most legitimate sweepstakes available in 2022!

How can I avoid fake sweepstakes and sweepstakes scams?

Sweepstakes scams take advantage of the hopes and dreams of everyday people. Learn how to avoid falling victim to fake sweepstakes with the following steps:

1. Keep track of the sweepstakes you enter

By keeping track of what sweepstakes you enter, you may be able to avoid a scam before it even begins.

In many cases, scammers will contact you about sweepstakes you haven’t even entered and claim that you have won a prize. You must enter a sweepstakes first in order to win. So simply by realizing that you haven’t entered the sweepstakes the scammer is talking about, you’ll know to ignore them, cut off contact and avoid their scam.

2. Learn the warning signs of a scammer contacting you

Legitimate sweepstakes have very specific laws that govern how they can contact their entrants and winners. Sweepstakes scammers, on the other hand, are criminals trying to avoid the law, often using fake and easily disposable ways to contact their targets. The way someone contacts you about a sweepstakes can often be an early warning sign that will help you avoid getting scammed, if you know what to look out for.

Both legitimate sweepstakes and sweepstakes scammers may contact you via several different methods, including mail, phone, email and social media. Here’s what to look out for with each:

By mail: 

Take a look at the return address on the envelope. Search for the return address online and make sure it belongs to the sweepstakes sponsor that it says it’s from.

By phone:

Be very careful when talking to anyone on the phone about sweepstakes. Legitimate sweepstakes will usually not call you directly, even to inform you that you’ve won. Use your caller ID to help you identify scammers – any blocked number, personal line, or foreign area code is a sure sign of a scammer. Search the caller’s phone number online to verify if it is the real number of a legitimate sweepstakes sponsor.

Especially avoid phone numbers with the area codes 876, 809 and 284. Those area codes belong to Jamaica, the Dominican Republic and the British Virgin Islands, all countries that have become centers for various phone scams in recent years. Keep in mind that US citizens can only enter US-based sweepstakes, so you’ll never be contacted by legitimate sweepstakes in any foreign country.

By email:

Some legitimate sweepstakes will contact you by email, but it will always be on an official company email with the sponsor’s company name or a version of it in the address. Email addresses from free email providers like GMail, Hotmail,  Yahoo!, etc. are a sign of a scam. Search for email addresses online to verify that the website they are provided by is the real website of a legitimate sweepstakes sponsor.

By social media:

Some legitimate sweepstakes may contact you through some forms of social media, especially if you entered their sweepstakes through a social network like Facebook or Instagram. Legitimate sweepstakes sponsors will always contact through an official company profile. 

Be wary of fake social media profiles posing as a sweepstakes sponsor. Additional text in the name is a giveaway – “Publishers’ Clearing House Prize Giveaway Team” is not the same as “Publishers’ Clearing House,” for example.

Stay away from anyone contacting you about sweepstakes through messaging apps like WhatsApp and FaceTime. Legitimate sweepstakes sponsors will not use these methods.

3. Know the information that all sweepstakes must provide

Every legitimate sweepstakes must provide its entrants with the following information:

1. No purchase is necessary 

2. Start and end dates 

3. Eligibility requirements 

4. Method to enter, including a “no purchase” method to enter

5. Limitations on the number of entries by a single person or household 

6. Odds of winning 

7. Description(s) and value(s) of the prize or prizes 

8. Method of selection and notification of winners 

9. Restrictions on receiving the prize

10. Void jurisdictions

11. Sponsor’s name and address

There may be more required information depending on where you live, but these 11 items are required for sweepstakes anywhere in the United States. If any of this information is not included in the information you receive about the supposed sweepstakes, it’s an attempt to scam you and should be avoided.

4. Never pay to claim a prize

Sweepstakes are often referred to as “giveaways” for a reason. Anyone asking you to pay them fees, taxes, or any other kind of payment in order to receive a sweepstakes prize is trying to scam you. Sweepstakes winnings are subject to taxes, but the taxes are paid to the government, not the sponsors.

Scammers will often ask for payment in the form of gift cards or prepaid cards, as these are more difficult for law enforcement to trace. Never allow a stranger to talk you into any kind of payment using these types of cards. 

Scammers may also ask you to wire money through services like Western Union, or send payments through online apps like PayPal, CashApp or Venmo. No legitimate sweepstakes will ever ask you to do something like this.

Remember – all legitimate sweepstakes are required to be “no purchase necessary.” Never send any form of payment to anyone claiming to represent a sweepstakes sponsor – they are trying to scam you.

5. Be careful with your personal information

Legitimate sweepstakes sponsors will need some personal information, like your name and contact information, in order to enter you in their sweepstakes. And they will need more information if you win, including your social security number.

That’s one of the reasons it is so important to verify that a sweepstakes is legitimate before entering or taking any action to receive a prize. If you feel suspicious at all that you’re being targeted by a scam, do not share any personal information with the person contacting you.

6. Get help from a trusted source

If you’re ever confused by anyone contacting you about a sweepstakes, feel someone is attempting to scam you or pressure you into a scam, or become worried that you have fallen victim to a scam, you should cut off contact with the suspected scammer and get help.

Scammers will often seek to isolate their targets, pressuring you to make quick decisions without outside advice. This itself is a warning sign of a scammer – legitimate sweepstakes sponsors have no reason to use high-pressure tactics on you.

Get a family member or a close, trusted friend’s advice if you feel confused or suspicious about any sweepstakes information you receive. And if you feel that you’ve been contacted by a scammer or fallen victim to a sweepstakes scam, contact law enforcement.

There are two convenient methods to report a sweepstakes or lottery scammer online:

If you were contacted from inside the United States, report it online with the Federal Trade Commission’s Complaint Assistant.
If you were contacted from outside the United States, report it to the International Consumer Protection Enforcement Network.

But how can I find the best legitimate sweepstakes to enter?

With all the uncertainty about scams over the phone, through mail, and online these days, it’d be nice to have a trusted source of information on the best and most legitimate sweepstakes available – a team of experts to verify the legitimacy of various sweepstakes and point you in the right direction for your chance at great prizes.

Fortunately, there is one!

Sweepstakes Advisor has been guiding people just like you to the best verified sweepstakes available for over 30 years!

Every issue of our Sweepstakes Advisor Prize Report is your guide to the best sweepstakes currently available online, with tips on how to enter and increase your chances of winning great prizes. Every issue has information on sweepstakes with prizes totaling a minimum of $12 million!

Our research department, the Sweepstakes Audit Bureau, does the hard work of finding the best sweepstakes for you – including lesser-known ones that would otherwise be hard to find. Using our proprietary Valu-Rater™, we grade each sweepstakes based on criteria like total value of prizes and chances to win.

Sweepstakes Advisors’ 30 years of experience and top-notch research gives our subscribers an edge when entering to win sweepstakes!

So let Sweepstakes Advisors do the hard work of finding the best sweepstakes for you – order your copy of our Prize Report now!