Online competitions have become hugely popular from both a customer and a business standpoint. For competition entrants, it’s quite simple: who doesn’t like winning free stuff? For companies, competitions are effective marketing tools.
Thanks to the updating of GDPR in 2018, entering online competitions became safer than ever. Stricter data laws filtered out many scam based competitions while forcing the quality of others to be raised. Companies must now act responsibly with entrants’ information, making competitions more valuable to both sides.
Although the online competition landscape is more popular and it’s safer than ever, scams and illegitimate competitions still exist. Falling victim to a scam can result in significant losses. Whether you lose money or valuable information, cyber theft is a real threat.
It’s extremely important to be aware of potential competition scams. Here are some warning signs to look out for when entering online competitions.
Free e-mail accounts
Legitimate competition hosts won’t contact you using a free standard e-mail address like Hotmail, Gmail, or Yahoo Mail. The exception to this rule is if it is a small or local company. In this case, double-check with the company that they intentionally contacted you.
Study the e-mail address carefully to make sure there aren’t slight misspellings that may be difficult to notice at a glance. For example, there could be a number or an additional letter that shouldn’t be there.
If you have to pay to enter a competition, ensure that it is a reputable site and that your money is safe. If you are borrowing money to enter, avoid using unsafe or untrustworthy loan companies. Consider using a reputable company for payday loans or short term lending.
Winning a competition that you didn’t enter
In a scenario where you get a winning notification, but you don’t remember entering the competition, it could be a scam. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Go through your e-mails and competition history to see if you can find evidence of entry. Search for information on the competition company. If it seems legitimate, you may have forgotten that you entered. Try contacting the company through the details provided, but be wary that contacting them could be dangerous.
Bank transfer requests
In some circumstances, you may have to pay for competitions. However, you should never be requested to wire or transfer funds to a bank account. This is a common scamming technique. Once the money is wire transferred, it is very difficult to trace, meaning you are not likely to get it back.
Communication is not personally addressed
When entering online competitions, you generally have to provide a certain amount of personal information. Therefore, if you win, the communication from the competition runners should be personally addressed to you. This one of the most important online competitions warning to bear in mind.
If you receive a generic e-mail that’s addressed to “winner” or “Sir/Madam”, this is a big red flag. There is a strong chance that you are the target of an e-mail phishing scam. If this is the case, your best course of action is to delete the e-mail and block the contact.