Saturday, April 24, 2010

How to recognize a fraudulent offer

Getting the Prize Pictures, Images and PhotosA sweepstakes is an advertising or promotional tool in which prizes are awarded to participating consumers/members by chance, with no purchase or "entry fee" required in order to win. Unfortunately, not all games and sweepstakes are fair, so it is important to be alert and know what to look for to avoid becoming a victim of fraud. Below are 11 ways to recognize fraudulent activity

1. The deal seems too good to be true: Prizes usually match with the companies doing the sweepstakes. Thus a small candle company probably won’t be giving a free vacation.

2. You’re the winner of a contest you don’t recall entering. This is a classic one that scam artists use. If you get an email claiming you’re the winner but you don’t remember entering, the offer is by all means a scam. All legitimate contests make sure their contestants verify or consent to being part of the contest; they also keep track of contestants and do not sell your information. If you didn’t say enter me in some manner, ignore the offer.

3. You’re asked for money to claim the prize, example, to pay for taxes, shipping, or processing. Sweepstakes are supposed to be one hundred percent free. If anyone asks you to pay money at any point be skeptical.

4. You’re told this is the final day for the promotion so you should order now. Again you should not have to pay money to be part of a sweepstakes.

5. You are offered a free demonstration in your home. This is usually a selling tactic. Once the person is in your home, you’ll be talked into buying. It is also a clever way for con artists to get your home address.

6. Someone else offers to pick up your cheque. Believe it or not this method is used, especially on seniors. They are told that if they are unable to get the prize themselves, someone will get it for them. This is usually a way to get your banking information and home address.

7. You are asked for your banking information. A reputable business will not ask for this, unless you are making a purchase and using that specific method of payment.

8. You are asked to call a 1-900 number. There is always a charge to call a 1-900 number, so if you are told to call that number to collect your prize, be skeptical.

9. You are asked to send cash or money order: Again, never pay anyone to join a sweepstakes.

10. The person calling refers to you by your first name and asks you a lot of personal or lifestyle questions. The caller is trying to become your friend and trying to find out if you are lonely and willing to talk in order to get information they may be able to use against you.

11. You must make a purchase to enter the contest. Remember, no purchase is necessary in order to enter a sweepstakes, and the chances of winning are the same whether you order or not.

Contests are fun, when they are legitimate. Use the tips above to help recognize a fraudulent offer.

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