Is Giving Out Your Date of Birth to Enter Sweepstakes a Good Idea?

Should You Fudge Your Age When You Enter Sweepstakes?

Woman Disguising Herself (to Enter Sweepstakes?)
••• Image (c) Cultura RM / Franck Sauvaire / Cultura / Getty Images

Many sweepstakes ask people to submit their date of birth as part of the entry process, which makes a lot of people nervous. There are good reasons why people don't want to use their real birth date when entering sweepstakes. Some people are worried about identity theft. Others are concerned about age discrimination when it's time to award the prizes.

So is it necessary? Do you really have to use your real birth date to enter sweepstakes? Or would putting a date that is close to your real birth date be close enough? Or could you skip the question altogether?

Giving Out Your Birth Date Is a Must If You Want to Win, and Here's Why:

Using your real date of birth is important when you enter sweepstakes. Why? Because otherwise, you may be disqualified from your prize win.

Simply skipping the age field is usually not an option when you enter online if it's a required field. Your entry form will not go through if you skip a required field. And if you don't include it when it's required on a mail-in sweepstakes entry form, your entry will likely be discarded.

And what about fudging your birth date? Using a fake date isn't a great idea, either. If you win, many sponsors require that you fill out an affidavit before claiming the prize. Sometimes the affidavit needs to be witnessed by a notary, who will verify that the information is accurate.

If any of the information on the affidavit varies from the information on your entry form, including your birth date, the notary might not be able to sign off on your affidavit. And that could lead to your losing the prize.

Could you talk the sponsor into sending you an affidavit that doesn't include your date of birth? Maybe. It's also possible that your prizes won't require affidavits (though the big ones will, and many smaller prizes, too).

But it's already hard to win prizes; do you want to gamble on losing them after your name is drawn as the winner?

So What Can You Do to Make Sure Your Information is Safe?

There are a few things you can to do to stay safe while still using your real birth date:

You can stick with sweepstakes that don't ask for your exact birth date when you enter. Some sweepstakes ask only for your birth month and year, and some give you an age range to select, while others have a checkbox to indicate an age range that's eligible to enter. And some easy-entry sweepstakes don't even include a birth date field at all. Entering only sweepstakes without birth date requirements help if you are worried about giving away too much personal information.

Also, make sure you're entering legitimate sweepstakes. Before you submit personal information that could be misused, take these steps to make sure that the giveaway is legitimate.

And don't forget to read the privacy policy. Making sure that the sponsor of the giveaway has a good privacy policy will ensure you know how your information will be used and how it will be protected.

Why Do Sweepstakes Companies Ask for Your Birth Date, Anyway?

There are three main reasons why sponsors are interested in your date of birth:

Your date of birth helps sponsors verify that you're eligible to enter. With some rare exceptions, sweepstakes are usually open only to people within a certain age range, whether the giveaway is ​for kids, open only to people above the age of majority, intended for people of retirement age, or other options. With your exact birth date, sponsors can be sure you are eligible to enter and win, saving time and effort when awarding the prize.

Your date of birth ensures you're legally able to enter. There are laws restricting how data from minors can be collected and transmitted (COPPA, for instance). To be sure that those laws are being followed, sponsors may want to check your age.

Your date of birth can be valuable to sweepstakes' sponsors. Knowing who is visiting their website and entering their sweepstakes is valuable information that lets sponsors learn how to tailor their advertising next time. Knowing who is entering can help companies choose their prizes and their marketing message for their next giveaway.

Your birth date is ​not used during the winner selection process of legitimate giveaways. As long as you are eligible to enter, your age won't affect your chances of winning.