Any time of year – but especially during the holiday season – people across the country get lured into potential sweepstakes that promise big payouts in the form of either cash prizes or material items in exchange for some basic identification information. However, more often than not these sweepstakes are too good to be true, and your odds of actually winning are almost nonexistent. Worst of all, many are scams that could lead to id theft, costing you more than you can afford in the long run.
Here are a few signs that the sweepstakes are really too good to be true and will only make you more susceptible to theft of identity.
- If the fine print seems sparse, missing start and end dates for the contest as well of methods of entry, such as judging criteria, assume that this is a scam.
- Should your odds of winning not be made explicitly clear from the get-go, you can assume that you are bound to only lose.
- Legitimate contests won’t require you to hand over personal identification information, like your license or passport number, or even your Social Security code.
- Investigate first and foremost, looking into any complaints filed against the contest in the Better Business Bureau.
- You are never “guaranteed” to win anything in a real sweepstakes, so if these mighty promises are made with reckless abandon, disregard the offer.
- Never call a ‘900’ number to get details, if that is the route they provide, as this is a sure sign that this is just a scam, since this area code incurs high per-minute charges that a fraudster could be hoping to pocket.
By staying vigilant, remembering these signs, and always being cautious when it comes to online sweepstakes, you can help protect your identity from being compromised.