How can you tell legitimate contests from bogus sweepstakes and lotteries? AARP’s Money Newsletter suggests the following five ways.
1. It’s a scam if you have to pay anything to enter or collect winnings.
2. Scammers request that fees be paid via wire transfers or prepaid debit cards which are hard to trace.
3. If you did not enter a contest, don’t believe claims you were “automatically entered.”
4. If entry forms or congratulatory letters are mailed bulk rate, it’s probably a scam. Other red flags: patriotic images (American flag, eagles) and a notice suggesting letter is from the U.S. Postal Service.
5. It’s a scam if legally required info is missing in print material: start and end dates; judging date and criteria, type of proof of purchase required; description of prizes and retail values; legal disclaimers; and sponsor’s name and address. Legit contests will request only your name, address or phone number.