Entering sweepstakes is a give and take between the entrants and the companies sponsoring the giveaways. In exchange for a chance to win, you submit your personal information to a company and have to trust that they will treat it respectfully. If not, you could be deluged with unwanted telephone calls, your inbox could be filled with spam emails, and your mailbox could be groaning under the weight of junk mail.
Nobody wants to deal with that.
So how can you tell how a company will handle your personal information before you hand it over?
What information will be collected? Will the company gather data about you other than what you submit through entry forms? Will any additional information be tied to your identity, or is the company looking for aggregate data (for example, will they track where _you_ come from, or which sites their visitors use to find them in general?)
How will that information be used? Will the information be collected only to contact sweepstakes winners, or will you be added to marketing lists?
How will your information be stored? And for how long? Will your personal information be deleted after the giveaway has ended, or the sponsor continue to keep it on file indefinitely?
Which security measures will protect your information? Even if the company hosting a giveaway is completely trustworthy, you can end up at risk if they are hacked. Make sure that they have security measures in place to keep your information safe.
Will your information be shared with other companies? Some privacy policies state that your personal information will only be used in-house. Others state that they will share information with companies that are contracted to do things like draw winners or maintain servers.
Other privacy policies will state that they will share your information with giveaway partners, or sell it to be added to marketing lists. The less sharing, the more secure your information is.
How can you contact the company? If you have a problem or want to be able to remove yourself from the company's database, having a way to contact them is important.
Privacy Policies and Facebook Sweepstakes
Other Signs of Trustworthiness
By taking a few precautions, you can ensure that you avoid spam, identity theft, and other downsides of sharing your personal information.