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Sweepstakes FAQ

Here are some of the Frequently Asked Questions we've been asked about sweepstakes. We'll keep adding to the list as we get more questions. Feel free to CONTACT US with any questions that you may have.

Do people really win sweepstakes?
Yes, people really win sweepstakes! There are literally millions of dollars in prizes out there, waiting to be won. Companies have been offering prizes for years and will always do so, because it is a great way to create a buzz about their brand or product.
Does Sweepstaking.net sponsor the sweepstakes listed on this website?
No, for the most part, Sweepstaking.net is basically a sweepstakes listing service. A place where you can visit to find the newest and best sweepstakes and click the links to go directly to those sweepstakes websites.
We will, on occasion run giveaways of our own, but they will be clearly marked as Sweepstaking.net Sweepstakes and the rules will be available on this website.
Why do companies run sweepstakes?
Sweepstakes, giveaways and contests are a very reasonably priced avenue for advertising. Big brands and small companies alike run sweepstakes for many reasons. It's a great way to get word of mouth advertising, which creates a "frenzy" about the company or their products. If a company is launching a new product or starting a new service, one of the best ways to spread the word about it is to run a contest. They can also build up their e-mail lists or social media followers with giveaways and sweepstakes. It can build a better relationship with their clients or establish new relationships with prospective clients, while even gathering market research in some cases.
How will I know if I won a sweepstakes?
If you're the winner, the sweepstakes sponsor will notify you in whatever way their rules state. A lot will notify you with an email, so always check your email, every day. Others will call you at the telephone number you provided on the entry form. There are others where you will just get a package in the mail, be it an affidavit they need you to fill out or the actual prize. Also, if you're curious because you didn't win and want to know who did, in the rules, usually toward the very bottom, there will be an address where you can send a letter to request a "Winners' List" be mailed to you.
Do I have to pay taxes on what I win?
Yes, just like lottery winnings, any sweepstakes prizes, even those that aren't cash prizes, are taxable. You do want to keep a ledger or record of your winnings and if you win anything valued at $600 or over, the sponsor will send you a 1099 MISC form at the end of the year, which you will want to keep for your records and to use at tax time.
How do I know if a sweepstakes is legitimate?
The best way to tell if a sweepstakes is legitimate is to carefully read over the "Official Rules", which can usually be found via a link on the sweepstakes webpage, with regards to internet sweepstakes. Also, keep in mind, you NEVER have to pay anything to enter a legitimate sweepstakes, nor do you EVER have to pay anything in order to collect your winnings.
How do I know if I've really won something and I'm not involved in some kind of scam?
The best way to know that a winning notification is legitimate is to check the e-mail address. If you've gotten an e-mail stating that you've won a $100 Shopping Spree from Nordstrom, but the e-mail address is a g-mail account, rather than something like info@Nordstrom.com than it may likely be just a scam. If there are misspelled words in the email or a mailer you get, that's also something you will want to just ignore.
A really good way to know if a notification is real is by keeping track of what you enter so that you can go back and see that yes, you entered this sweepstakes, read the official rules and it is legitimate. If you get an e-mail, a check in the mail or a phone call saying you've won something, but you're sure you didn't enter, it's not legitimate.
Again, anything asking you to pay or wire money to redeem your prize is not legitimate, either.
Something VERY IMPORTANT to note here is a legitimate sweepstakes sponsor is going to treat you like their "Winner" and be patient with you. If you ask them to give you a moment to check your records they will gladly do so. If you're being pressured to hurry up and accept a prize you aren't even sure you entered to win, chances are you're dealing with a scam. You wont be asked for banking information or credit card numbers, either if the sponsor is legit. (Do keep in mind with regards to 1099-Misc forms, if it is necessary for a sponsor to send you one, they will need your social security number in order to do so, but typically they will mail an affidavit out requesting that information.)
How many sweepstakes do I have to enter before I start winning?
That's a good question and although there is no one correct answer, we've found after years of entering sweepstakes that if you enter a whole lot, you're going to win something, eventually. Some people get lucky and win things the first week they start entering. Others may enter for three months straight before they win anything. Other sweepstakers actually go through "Sweeping Slumps" where they don't win anything substantial for awhile. Thing is, sometimes after a slump like that you get the win of a lifetime! While some say luck has a lot to do with it, it really is a numbers game. The more you enter, the better your chances.
What kind of sweepstakes are the easiest to win?
Sweepstakes odds are usually listed in the official rules, so if you're a math person, you may want to pay attention to those. Realistically, again, luck has something to do with it, but we find the "easiest to win" sweepstakes are Instant Win Games and sweepstakes that offer Lots Of Prizes. Think of it this way, if a sponsor has an instant win game and they're giving away 10,000 candy bars, you have a much better chance at snagging a candy bar than you do at winning a sweepstakes that is giving away one big ticket item. It isn't ALWAYS the case, though, so enter whatever you have time to enter. Lightening strikes, so to speak, quite often when you're sweepstaking!
If you've got the time, try to enter a little of everything! For those who don't have a lot of time to spend entering contests and sweeps, try starting with Instant Win Games and maybe One Entry Only sweepstakes. The Daily Entry sweepstakes will quickly build up and become very time consuming.
Can anyone enter sweepstakes?
The majority of sweepstakes are open to the general public, however, there are some states with certain restrictions. This is another reason why it is important for you to read the sweepstakes rules. The rules may say, "open to residents of The United States", but further down it may state, "void in AK and HI". That means anyone can enter, except those living in Alaska and Hawaii. Certain states may be excluded because of laws in those states about alcohol related sweepstakes, high value sweepstakes and even in some cases, because it simply costs too much for the sponsors to ship prizes to certain states.
With regards to sweepstaking in Canada, you'll commonly see "void in Quebec", because Quebec has rules in place to protect their citizens that are just very difficult and expensive for Sponsors to adhere to, including paying a fee of up to 10% of the total prize value.
Some sweepstakes and contests are only available to people of a certain state or group of states. We list those under Limited Areas.
Another thing you'll want to review the rules for is to see what age group can participate. Even though most sweepstakes are intended for audiences over 18, you'll find some that you have to be 21 to enter and there are sometimes sweepstakes intended for children of certain ages, adults over the age of 45. etc.
Why do some sweepstakes say "No purchase necessary", yet require you to enter a code found on a package that you would have to buy?
If a sweepstakes says "No purchase necessary to enter", than that is just what they mean. However, they may require you to have a code from their packaging. In those cases, check their "official rules" because they must offer an AMOE, which is short for "Alternate Method of Entry". That may be a special page set up only for people who don't have a code, where they can get a free code or just enter without one, or it could mean having to mail a self addressed stamped envelope or email the sponsor to get a free code.
I can't find the "official rules", should I still enter?
This one is a tough question. Technically, the answer is "NO". However, we've run into sweepstakes sponsors who run quick little giveaways on their facebook pages where they don't have a clear set of rules to read over. The general rule we use is if they do list the end date, the amount of times you're permitted to enter and a prize description of some sort AND it is a REPUTABLE brand, say TIDE or KEURIG and you're certain they are the ones who run the page, then go for it. Still, you should try to browse a bit to find the rules just to be safe, but there are occasional "flash giveaways" where a company will post something on facebook to get comments or likes and we've known people who have won some of these types of giveaways. Again, go with the trust factor, though. If you've never heard of the brand, steer clear, especially those facebook pages that have come out of nowhere, are not well known and ONLY host "giveaways" which really looks suspicious.
I've entered a TON of sweepstakes! What happens if I move?
Sweepstaking can be a lot of work and it would be awful if you've entered sweepstakes continually for months and something comes up and you have to move. We've noticed some sweepstakes do include instructions for this in their rules. If you're anticipating a move, double check the rules for such information as soon as you know it is a possibility and make note of their instructions. Otherwise, sponsors are awarding prizes to make great relationships and will usually do whatever they can to accommodate you if this happens. Just be sure to put in a change of address as soon as you can, so that any mail gets forwarded to you!
Will I get a million e-mails if I start entering sweepstakes?
Yes. Maybe not a million, but you will get e-mails. Some sweepstakes cannot be entered unless you agree to get their e-mail newsletter. Some will offer you extra entries for signing up for e-mails. It's up to you, really. If you decide you don't want to make a separate email account for sweepstaking or just don't want the extra emails, check the rules and see if you can "Opt Out" of getting them. Some entry forms will have a spot with a check mark that says "*Required", which means you can't enter unless you click the box and accept emails, BUT the rules may state that you can "Opt out at any time" with no consequences on your sweepstakes entry. Meaning, go ahead sign up and if you unsubscribe it wont disqualify you. Be aware that we have been doing sweepstakes ourselves for years and have gotten many emails we didn't want, even those we chose not to get. It happens, which is why it's a good idea to use a fresh, separate email account for sweepstaking, just in case.
How did I get subscribed to this magazine even though I checked no on the sweepstakes page or entered via their "Click here to enter if you don't want a subscription" page?
This does happen sometimes. They always have a way you can cancel the subscription without any billing. Check the email you get from them for a cancellation link. We always post a HINT when we're aware a sweepstakes from a magazine may come with a subscription offer, to alert our visitors. We have had it happen to us, though, maybe a glitch or maybe we just checked the wrong box, but the magazine companies are great about fixing this problem, if it happens.
What is a "Creative Presentation" sweepstakes?
This is something else that you'll find typically magazine companies may run. Basically a number of companies get together and run a contest. It's great because that means they're all pitching in for a bigger prize. You'll see some of the magazine companies offering a "$100,000 Sweepstakes" and in the rules it may state that it's a "creative presentation". The drawback, if there is one, is that the odds of winning may be a little tougher. Some only pick a winner from ONE of the websites, so you could be entering every day and not have much of a chance at the prize at all. If 10 magazines are running a sweepstakes, advertising it on all of their websites, in all of their publications, chances are MANY more people will be entered. And they usually run these for longer periods of time, too, sometimes as long as a few years. While it is good to be entered in such a big sweepstakes because they are offering such a hefty prize, it may very well be a long shot.
Why do some Daily Entry sweepstakes say you've already entered today when you haven't?
That could be that the sweepstakes is a 24 Hour only entry. If that's the case, you have to keep track of what time you're entering those so that you don't get disqualified, which some will do.
Another issue we've found is that some of the sweepstakes store cookies and THINK you entered today because it's finding your cookie that says you've visited already. The best way to prevent this is every day, when you sit down to do your daily entry sweepstakes, clear your browser's cache first. That will prevent this issue.
If I accidentally enter a One Entry Only sweepstakes twice, am I disqualified?
For the answer, you'll want to check the sweepstakes "Official Rules" to see if the sponsor disqualifies all of your entries or just ignores all entries after the first one. We've been disqualified, too, so don't feel bad. It happens. This is a great reason to keep track of what you're entering, though, to prevent disqualification.
Is there an easier way to enter all of these sweepstakes?
This is a great question! One of our Admins here at Sweepstaking.net has arthritis and used to ponder this a lot in the early days, when her fingers were about to break from all of the typing every day. There are programs out there that will automatically fill out forms for you and most browsers have an auto-fill feature. Again, it comes back to the particular sweepstakes official rules. Some explicitly state that you must hand type your entry and any use of robotic form fillers is prohibited. We've experimented with this over the last few years and yes, you CAN win sweepstakes using such tools, but you want to be sure the rules don't specifically state that you can't use those types of tools to enter.
Again, if you have a question, don't hesitate to CONTACT US!