Affidavits: What They Are and Why Sweepstakes Winners Need Them
What Is the Purpose of Signing an Affidavit? Here's the Scoop
What Is an Affidavit?
An affidavit is a legal document that contains a statement, sworn in writing, confirming certain facts. When it comes to sweepstakes, affidavits are used to very potential winners' personal information, such as their name, age, and social security number. Affidavits must often be witnessed by someone who is authorized to act as a neutral third party to verify that information, such as a notary public.
Why Do Sweepstakes Winners Need Affidavits?
Before prizes can be awarded to their winners, sweepstakes sponsors need to verify that those winners were eligible to enter. Affidavits help the sponsors verify that the entrant was using their legal name and was not ineligible due to issues like age or state of residence so that the prize will be awarded fairly.
Until the affidavit has been received and checked, you are only a potential winner. Only after the verification process has been completed will you become an official winner.
An affidavit verifies that:
- The information you entered on the sweepstakes entry form is true and accurate.
- You entered in compliance with the rules.
- You are eligible to win the prize and are not associated with the sweepstakes' sponsor.
- You agree to the terms and restrictions of claiming the prize if any.
In most cases, the affidavit will ask you to confirm that the information you submitted on your entry form is correct, and to swear that you agree to abide by the rules of the sweepstakes. You may be asked to confirm that the sponsors can publish your name as the sweepstakes winner for publicity purposes and that you do not work for the sponsor or the judging agency. Not agreeing to these terms may be grounds for disqualification.
You may also be asked for additional information, such as your social security number for tax purposes. You'll need to give your social security number to claim any legitimate prize worth more than $600, and many sponsors require them for prizes worth less than $600 as well.
Why Do Affidavits Need to Be Notarized?
A notary provides an additional level of security to an affidavit, by acting as an impartial third party who is authorized to verify that you really are who you say you are.
A notary cannot provide any legal advice about the document you are signing, but they can check your identification to make sure your name, address, and other information are accurate.
Because they meet with you in person and verify your ID, it's harder for anyone to fraudulently try to claim your prizes.
Before You Sign an Affidavit...
When you've just been notified that you're a potential winner and you're flushed with excitement, you might be tempted to sign any legal document put before you.
But before you sign your affidavit, read through it carefully. Be sure that you understand what you're agreeing to, and that you can accept any conditions that the sponsor is putting on claiming your prize.
For example, if you really don't want your name and photograph being published online and in the newspapers as the winner, you won't want to sign an affidavit that requires media appearances.
If you don't understand anything you are being asked to agree to, clarify the terms with the sponsor or hire legal counsel to help you determine your rights.
If there are any conditions that you cannot live with, talk to the sponsor; they may have some leeway to change the requirements. Otherwise, you will need to decide whether to accept the terms or decline the prize. In some cases, declining a prize might be the right decision for you.