While we try to maintain the highest quality sweepstakes possible, we cannot guarantee the authenticity of a site's sweepstakes or how well they will abide to specific laws such as CAN SPAM. The following are our recommendations to make your sweepstakes experience the best possible.

  1. We recommend you only enter at NAME-BRAND sites that you RECOGNIZE AND TRUST. Most name-brand sites such as Pepsi, Yahoo have their sweepstakes run by a legitimate agency or promotion company and follow best practices when collecting and using the names from the sweepstakes in follow-up marketing, such as only sending emails to entrants that opt-in during the sweepstakes.

  2. Your choice to opt-in (or not) during a sweepstakes WILL NOT affect your chances of winning. If you don't want to receive lots of follow-up emails, then make sure you select or unselect the checkbox near the opt-in portion of the sweepstakes. NOTE: Read the opt-in language carefully - here's two different ways the language could read that may confuse you!

  3. Example 1: Opt-in that requires checkbox:
    Yes, I would like to receive special offers and information from Hyundai. Click here for Hyundai's privacy policy:

    Example 2: Pre-Opted in that requires you to uncheck to opt-out:
    If you do not wish to receive information from Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia and our special partners in the future, please uncheck this box.

  4. Follow the rules for frequency and whether the sweepstakes allows entries by person, email address or household. The more (allowable) entries you have, the more likely you are of winning! If the entry limit is by household, don't try to cheat the system by changing the address slightly for the other members in your household. Most legitimate sweepstakes administrators will look for this type of activity and have the right to disqualify you from the sweepstakes if they notice this behavior. With online sweepstakes, more data is being collected than you often know - the sweepstakes sponsor or administrator typically knows your IP address, browser version, and other data that it can use to determine if a person has "cheated".

  5. If you win a legitimate sweepstakes you should never have to pay any shipping and/or handling fees. A legitimate sweepstakes sponsor will never ask for money in order to send your prize. Most legitimate sweepstakes win notifications are simple emails from the sponsor or their agency letting you know you are a potential winner with instructions for filling out a winners affidavit. These valid emails would have the direct line or extension of the person sending the message and you shouldn't have to log into a site if you have won. Another (scam) giveaway is a footer on the (scam) email stating the company will take legal action if you report them as spam. No legitimate sponsor will ever say that, suggesting the scamming company probably bought a list from a site that would have your ip address, name, town,etc., to make it look legitimate

  6. Be careful if asked for your social security number! NEVER give this out by phone. Your social security number is ONLY required for sweepstakes prizes with a value greater than $600 (for tax reporting purposes). A legitimate sweepstakes sponsor or administrator will typically send you a registered/overnight letter with a 1099 form attached if this is the case. If you'd like our (free) assistance in determining if a sweepstakes win notification is legitimate, we're happy to help! Simply send us an email with the details and we'd be happy to help you determine if your win is legitimate.

  7. Avoid services that offer to enter for you. Almost all legitimate sweepstakes sponsors and administrators now watch for this activity and will disqualify you. It is often stated in the rules & regulations that automated entries generated by a script or any other mechanism will be disqualified.

  8. Use tools like Roboforms and Google Auto-fill carefully. While we find that many sweepstakes sponsors can't detect if you are using a page-specific auto-fill capability, some sponsors clearly state in their rules that entries must be hand-typed. We try to make notes stating this in the comments if we find a sweepstakes where you should avoid an auto-fill. We prefer Google Auto-fill (found within the Google toolbar you can download here) and have heard that Roboforms can cause problems with some users machines. As a final note, you my choose to use these auto-fill tools at your discretion but there is nothing in this site that will auto enter a sweep for you.
Have any other questions or suggestions we can add to our "Sweepstakes 101" page? Please let us know by sending us an email.