Everyday, Americans receive sweepstakes offers through the mail. How do you determine when the sweepstakes offers you receive are legitimate? There are three questions to ask yourself when considering the validity of any sweepstakes offer.
First, is the mailing asking for your personal information or your credit card or bank account information? Second, is the mailing asking you to wire money or make a payment? Lastly, does the solicitation plainly state “no purchase necessary to win” or “purchase will not increase your chances of winning” in the message?
Legitimate sweepstakes will not ask for your personal, bank or credit card information. A request for such information immediately alerts you that the mailing should be ignored. A mailing that is part of a legitimate sweepstakes will never have you make a payment or wire money to the company. A request for payments, purchases or advance fees immediately alerts you that the mailing should be ignored. Finally, a legitimate sweepstakes will clearly state, “no purchase necessary to win” or “purchase will not increase your chances of winning.”
Often retirees and seniors are placed on specific mailing lists to become the targets of multiple fraudulent sweepstakes mailings or other solicitations. However, we all should remain vigilant, regardless of age. When personal information is solicited or there is any doubt about the validity of a sweepstakes mailing or charitable solicitation, seniors and their families simply should not respond.
People who are unsure about a mailing are encouraged to contact their local police department for advice or, in our area, to stop by the C.O.P.S. and Volunteer Center at Oviedo Marketplace (next to Dillard’s) for tips on how to avoid becoming a crime victim. Additional information on fraudulent sweepstakes and how to recognize them can be found online.