What Information Should You Share on Sweepstakes Entry Forms?
Protect Your Personal Information While Entering Giveaways
Sweepstakes entry forms can ask for so much information. And especially online, you have to be careful with your personal information so that you don't become a victim of identity theft. A spoofed website can trick you into giving away more information than is safe to share. So find out what information is common to find on sweepstakes entry forms, and what should raise red flags that you're being scammed.
Age and Birth Date
Many people are nervous about putting their exact birth date on sweepstakes entry forms. However, sweepstakes sponsors have good reasons for needing your exact age.
For example, there are special laws that govern collecting personal information from minors; the sponsors have to know the age of their entrants to be sure these laws are followed.
Asking for your birth date also ensures that you meet the giveaway's age restrictions and are eligible to enter and win.
Companies are able to use age information to evaluate their giveaways' audience so that they can tailor more successful sweepstakes next time.
Sponsors use sweepstakes as a method to gather information about their audience. So survey questions aren't a red flag.
Examples might be asking whether you've ever heard of a product, how you perform a certain task, or what your preferences are. There could be just one or two questions or a whole page of feedback for you to provide.
Sometimes these survey questions are optional, while other sweepstakes require them.
Unless the survey questions are unreasonably long and intrusive, they're nothing to worry about.
Sweepstakes entry forms may ask you for information like your clothing sizes, color preferences, or which activities you enjoy the most.
This is usually to help the sponsor nail down the details of the prize you'll receive. As long as the questions aren't too intrusive, this is standard for legitimate sweepstakes entry forms, and nothing to be concerned about.
Credit Card Information
You never have to pay to enter sweepstakes, so asking for a credit card on an entry form is a red flag that should warn you away from entering.
The exception is websites where they attempt to sell you something alongside the sweepstake, such as magazine subscriptions. In these cases, the form may ask for a credit card, but actually entering the number should be optional (and you should only do it if you really want to buy the product. Making a purchase won't influence your chances of winning legitimate sweepstakes).
If a credit card number is required to enter, stay away.
Driver's License Number
Sometimes sweepstakes, especially car sweepstakes, will require that winners have a driver's license. However, they should never ask for your driver's license number to enter. If they need that information, they will ask for it after they have chosen a winner.
Your driver's license number could be used for identity theft or to cash fraudulent checks, and you shouldn't enter it on an entry form.
Social Security Number
Sponsors often need your social security number to report winnings to the IRS; however, they will ask for your social only after you have won a prize. There is no legitimate reason to ask for a social security number on a sweepstakes entry form, and you should stay away from any sweepstakes that do.
For more information about social security numbers and prizes, see Why Do Sponsors Need my Social Security Number?
Note: Tobacco companies are an exception to this rule. Tobacco companies sometimes request a part of your social security number to ensure that they are not advertising to minors.