"You are so lucky, Colleen!" "You ALWAYS win!" "You give the best gifts!"
These are typical statements made by my friends, as they compliment me for giving their child (or them) an awesome gift. Or, after I relay an exciting story of how I received a 'surprise' package from a contest I had entered awhile back in today's mail.
When I tell folks that I enter on-line contests, most are slightly amused, but not very curious. I, in turn, find that amusing, because I've had nothing but positive experiences!
For example, I won a year supply of Betty Crocker Fruit Flavored Snacks 24-Count Fun-Size Party Packs. Yes, you read that correctly: a year supply. By the way, Fruit by the Foot is the best!
And, I won a real NFL licensed football (I don't recall exactly what model/type, because it was sports related. Yawn.).
And, then, there was that time I won $250 from the search engine Blingo. Yippeee! I shopped for clothes after I received the check in the mail.
I could keep listing other cool prizes for you!
But, back to my friends. While they compliment me in one breath, their next breath is "I never win." "My inbox already has too much spam emails." "I don't want to divulge personal information."
I can't dispute certain contests are unsavory, illegitimate, and potentially harmful to ones computer hardware. But, the old "80/20" rule applies here; 80% of the on-line contests are legitimate, and you won't experience any ill-effects.
Here's what you can do to protect yourself and start reaping rewards:
1. Enter the contest if you are familiar with the brand. For example, ever hear of Snicker's candy bars? How about Budweiser beer? Both of these brands held contests in 2011. I won a Sirius satellite radio and 24 coupons for a free candy bar.
2. Enter the contest through the company's website. In other words, make sure the URL is that company and not a third-party company's name. Having said that, many companies are holding their contests through Facebook - the company's Facebook page. Just make sure you look at the URL to ensure you are visiting that company's Facebook page; for example: http://www.facebook.com/johnsonsbaby
3. Create a new free email account for yourself and use that email address exclusively for your on-line sweeping. This will ensure any spam that does occur will only go to that email address. Having said that, many contests ask the question "Check here if you would like further emails from us..." or something to that regards. Don't click the check box! This will help reduce the email 'noise' that you will receive.
4. Enter only required fields on the contest page. Some companies ask optional questions, designated by an asterisk. If it's optional, skip the question/field! To help understand this, the Official Rules of the contest will elaborate more in-depth! Be sure to refer to the rules before you start typing!
Sweeping on-line is a great way to relax and win! So, pour a cup of coffee, find a comfortable chair, and start sweeping! Good Luck to you!