Online giveaways can be pretty enticing if you find the right one.
Those concert tickets you've been dying for, at the low, low price of free? A brand new PlayStation and all you have to do is click here?
Say what you want, but some of these must be worth your time, even if you've only got a one-in-ten-thousand chance of winning, right?
As it turns out, yes, you've got to know what to look out for. Join us today as we break down five important tips to keep in mind when looking for reliable online sweepstakes sites worth signing up for.
Look for Recognized Sponsors
In most cases, for someone to give away prizes, they'll need a sponsor to either give them the prizes or pay for them. This is the first thing to look out for, as it's a sign of their trustworthiness.
Keep a weather eye open for legitimate companies, such as Walmart, Target, or Amazon for proof that the competition's legitimate. These are companies with longstanding reputations and very public faces. They have nothing to gain from ripping off the man on the street and everything to lose by being implicated with fraud.
Be wary of sketchy, low-end websites you "can't believe" scored such great sponsorships and online shopping deals. Some businesses are more desperate than others and often won't be above lying in the short term.
Broad Terms and Conditions
Any legitimate companies will know the dangers of running a contest and leaving gaps in their terms and conditions. Whether large or small, these businesses take the time to create extensive terms for their promotions and online prizes.
You should look for documents that span multiple pages. These should address everything from input methods to dates, eligibility, prizes, and jurisdictions.
Small blogs are usually the only exception to this rule. You won't find extensive T & Cs here, but you should be able to find something. In cases where you find nothing, it's best to tread carefully.
A Real Host Site
If you're looking at a giveaway on a site with nothing else on it anywhere, leave it alone. Think of it like this: we trust the woman in the store who hands us free cheese because they have a uniform, branding, and a store everybody can see.
You wouldn't accept the same offer from a woman in the parking lot working from the back of a van. Why? Because vans are scary?
No; because the cheese store had a real location, with real things happening in it. The cheese van was engineered to trick you into going somewhere that's not real (at least, not in the way we want it to be).
Do you trust a site that has nothing but a “promising” single page to collect emails and offer gift cards? Not likely.
When there's no evidence that the organizer is legal, there's no reason to believe the free stuff is going to be legal either. This applies to social media pages as well as websites; when that Facebook group seems untrustworthy, it's often because it is.
One last trick to use is to try and access the sweepstakes page from another part of the website. If you go to the homepage, for instance, and can't find your way back, this is what is known as a "separated page."
It's also what's known as a warning signal. When a competition or online shopping spree is legal, businesses promote them. They don't hide them.
Some websites will simply offer prizes completely for free, no contest required. It's something for nothing, provided you like the page or subscribe to the newsletter. These are almost always a scam, however, and there's only one thing they want from you: your email.
These are products you'll typically be able to buy off the shelf for hundreds, if not thousands of dollars. And you've got to ask yourself if your email or "like" is really worth all that much.
The answer, sadly, is "not really." For the people dealing in these contact details (and you'd be shocked how many of them there are out there), each is worth less than 10 cents, maximum.
That's not worth a new iPad by a long shot, which is why in the end, many of these competitions often don't even give their prizes away. And the ones that do give them away drag out the competition over months to get as many emails as possible.
Of course, when it's the company itself giving their own product away for free, there's less to worry about. The ProKitchen Software interior design package, for example, is free to non-professional designers.
Follow Your Intuition
New competitions and giveaway sites are coming into being every day. And year after year, they're becoming smarter and more sophisticated. It's hard to outline all the things you could look out for in a "good" giveaway site, which is why one of the best pieces of advice is to trust your gut.
When something seems "not right” about a prize, that's often a great sign something's actually wrong.
A Facebook page with bad grammar and a pixelated profile picture that offers free international flights? A website with a mile-long URL and terrible reviews from dozens of people, but they're giving away iPads?
These are clear warning signs. Ask yourself, "would Apple endorse something that looks like this?" "Would U2 really let these people promote their concert with free tickets?"
If it sounds too good to be true, perhaps you're hearing it just right.
Online Giveaways: Know What to Look For
Getting something for nothing is a great feeling, regardless of whether or not you can even afford it. Sweepstakes have been an enticing idea since long before online giveaways for this exact reason. But today, as in years before, it's important to know what to look out for and how to spot a scam.
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