There’s a good chance you’re being duped every time you open one of those “you have won a prize” offers.
The offers are written to make you think you’re the only big winner, but the truth is the prize seldom has much value and most of us end up paying.
There is almost always a catch or hidden costs. Sweepstakes marketers convince you to spend money on 900 number calls, disclose credit card numbers, reveal bank account numbers, pay extra fees, or pay for shipping and handling which often costs more than the value of the so-called prize.
And once you’ve fallen victim con artists add your name to a “sucker” list and either contact you again for another “prize” or sell your name to other scammers.
- You shouldn’t have to pay anything to claim a legitimate prize. If you must pay for shipping, handling, redemption fees etc, forget it.
- Avoid making decisions under high-pressure tactics and demands that you act now or lose the opportunity.
- Don’t commit to anything over the phone. Insist on written information from the company.
- Read all the fine print, even if it means using a magnifying glass.
- Never give your credit card number over the phone unless you are familiar with the company.
- Be wary of phony organizations with names that sound like legitimate groups.
- If you enter your name in a contest or drawing for a prize it often means you will become a sales lead for the sponsoring organization. Promoters often call everyone who enters to try to sell their products and they often sell the names to others who also try to contact you.
- The odds for any contest you enter should be clearly stated.
- For so-called free vacations, be sure to ask about hidden costs such as ground transportation and port fees, black out dates when you aren’t allowed to go and airline prices. Also, demand to see literature on hotels or cruise ships you’ll use. Finally, compare prices and facilities with your own travel agent before accepting the offer.