Reverse Phone Lookup Helps to Safely Enter Sweepstakes

Just because there are all sorts of scammers out there trying to take our money under false pretenses, doesn't mean we can't still enter and participate in all kinds of online contests and sweepstakes and even occasionally win. The key is to be smart and do it safely.

There are countless Web sites that offer all kinds of fun drawings and give away real prizes. Based on your hobbies and interests, search creatively, using such keyword phrases as 'online sweepstakes', 'winning prizes', 'win cars', 'win DVDs', 'win movie tickets', 'win trips', etc.

Once you are on the site, pay attention to certain telltale signs of fraudulent contests. NEVER - EVER - send money, and immediately disengage if someone on the other end tells you that to claim your prize you must pay first. DO NOT provide personal information other than name, address and phone number. Know that legitimate sweepstakes will not ask for your social security number, unless you win a major prize.

What usually happens is you get a phone call followed by paperwork in the mail that must be notarized. If a caller announces that you've won, ask lots of questions. A bona fide sweepstakes rep will tell you which sweepstakes it is; if not, ask. That's the reason you should maintain detailed records of every contest you enter, so you can make sure you actually participated in the one they name. Keep track of when you entered, when the sweepstakes ends, and the types of prizes you may win.

Always listen to your intuition; if you feel the caller is asking strange personal questions, hang up and run a reverse phone lookup on the number that shows up on your caller ID. A valid source will not mask the number they're calling from or tell you to make your decision on the spot. It will allow you to get off the phone, research the company through a reverse phone lookup, and call them back.

Remember to keep as many other people informed as possible, should you determine that someone is trying to defraud you. Start a blog if you can, posting detailed information on every fake sweepstakes contact you receive. Tell others what to look out for and how to use a reverse phone lookup to check for fraud. Give back a little. And good luck; may you win lots of prizes.