Fair Scam Alert

The Better Business Bureau wants to warn you about the possibility of getting scammed while you're at the fair.

Fairs, carnivals and festivals often have booths that offer a chance to win cash prizes, new cars and even dream vacations. But entering in these giveaway contests require you to write down your personal information such as your name, phone number and e-mail.

"A lot of times the scammers are just taking your information and so you need to be ready to receive mass marketing messages and other kind of things. You're giving them permission to market to you when you put your information down" said Monica Horton, President of the Better Business Bureau of North Central Texas.

Scammers will take your information and sell it to telemarketing companies. Not  only that but they will also use the registration slips to change your electric service as well as your long distance phone provider, all without you ever noticing.

The BBB says the atmosphere of the fairs is what clouds victim's judgment and makes them more prone to signing up. Recently, the bureau has received numerous complaints from consumers who have fallen victim to these false prize giveaways.

"Be careful filling out those registration slips. Consumers do not need to provide any personal information especially social security numbers, bank accounts etc." said Horton.

According to Horton, if you want to enter in a prize giveaway, you should always read the fine print on the sign up form, looking for contest details. But, there is a better thing you can do to avoid being scammed.

"If you are in doubt of a prize offer and you don't know how they are going to specifically use your information, then you should probably walk away from it" said Horton.

To avoid being victimized, BBB 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 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 of 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.

For advice from the BBB, log onto www.bbb.org .

Cynthia Kobayashi, Newschannel Six.