Contests, What Are You Really Signing Up For?

This is a fun time of year as we attend the carnivals, fairs and trade shows and we may forget to protect ourselves from being scammed. Consumers need to exercise caution when filling out entry forms.  We see promotions for free prizes, such as cars, computers, cash or vacations and do not pay attention to what we are signing.

The entry forms may be used as an official way for companies to obtain written permission from consumers to switch their long distance carriers, electrical provider or sell personal information. Make sure you read the fine print on the back!

To avoid being victimized, the Better Business Bureau offers the following tips when you encounter contest booths:

Review the entry form carefully. Do not enter if in doubt of what the fine print on the bottom or back of the form means

  • Do not provide any personal information on the form, such as a social security number, bank account information, or credit card number
  • If the booth is staffed, ask questions about the contest and how your name will be used
  • If you decide to enter the contest, take a blank copy of the form with you so that you will have a record of what you signed and make sure the form has the contest sponsor, the rules, the entry deadline or the date of the drawing
  • Even if the contest is genuine, you should understand you might be placed on a mailing list, increasing the level of junk mail as a result. This list may even be sold to other telemarketing companies

If you are in doubt of a prize offer do not participate. The Better Business Bureau advice and information can be found online at