Five Tips to Spot a Giveaway Scam

Five Tips to Spot a Giveaway Scam

Play it smart while you hunt for deals online

There are thousands of giveaway opportunities available online, but most people don’t know how to tell the scams from the real thing, so they miss out. These simple clues will help you sort out the crooks and spammers, so you can relax and have fun saving money.

1. An “entry” or “processing” fee required to win your prize

There are many legitimate giveaways that require you to buy some product or sign up for a service in order to qualify (like those Monopoly giveaways that McDonalds runs on their drink cups); but any time you spend money in the context of a giveaway, you should know exactly what you’re getting in return. That also means that you should be interested in whatever you’re signing up for, because the chances of winning the giveaway prize are slim. If you really can’t resist signing up for a giveaway that requires a fee to enter, realize that you’re buying the online equivalent of a lottery ticket, and your chances of seeing that money again are essentially zero.

2. A “guaranteed” prize

Any offer that tells you “You’ve already won”, or is incredibly easy to win, should raise red flags right away. Banner-ad games that offer an iPad or some other prize if you “slap the belly” or “launch the monkey” (or whatever) should be avoided altogether. If you want to kill ten minutes, play flash games at VideoBash or another site you trust. Legitimate giveaways will offer you a chance to win some prize—after all, if they gave iPads to everyone who could click their mouse really fast, who would buy them at the store?

3. Any request for personal financial information

This is the Mother of All Red Flags, ladies and gentlemen. Do not enter any giveaway offer that requires you to submit to a “credit check” or divulge any of your personal banking information, including your routing number, account number, credit card number, or PIN. Even if they claim to have some legitimate need for the information (like depositing funds in your account), there is never a legitimate reason for it. A legitimate cash giveaway will send you a check.

4. You’re not sure what’s in it for them

Real businesses don’t offer giveaways for charity. They either want you to buy something, sign up for something, or allow them to pitch you something; and they definitely expect to take in more money than they pay out. For instance, if a company offers you a free Caribbean cruise in exchange for subscribing to their mailing list, that means that they expect to draw in thousands and thousands of subscribers, so that they earn more in sales from the mailing list than they’re paying for the cruise. That doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea to enter, but recognize that your chances of winning are slim. The company offering the giveaway intends to make money; and if you can’t see how they could possibly be making money, there’s probably something they’re not telling you.

5. Do your homework, and listen to your gut

We’ve all heard the saying, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is”. Well, when it comes to giveaways, if it sounds too good to be true, it absolutely is. When a giveaway requires almost nothing to enter, and the prize is both guaranteed and extravagant, ask yourself: Why isn’t everyone taking advantage of this deal? If I can make $250 an hour working from home, why would anyone keep grinding away at their 9 to 5? There are also great anti-fraud resources available online, or you can just Google around and see what people have to say about it. Even if you can’t find anything negative, keep the above tips in mind and tread carefully. Happy hunting!

Tiffany Gantt is a staff writer for, a website dedicated to the love of cooking and looking good while you do it! You can often find her getting creative in the kitchen as she whips up something yummy in one of her flirty, color coordinated aprons.