New research by Nationwide has revealed that seven in ten of us enter competitions without even checking if the offer is legitimate.
Only fewer than a third of people take the time to verify if a competition is genuine before handing out personal information like names, addresses and dates of birth.
Most of us are aware that our personal information should be protected, 86% of us wouldn’t share our bank details, 62% protect our date of birth and 58% know fraudsters want to know our home address.
But that all goes out the window for many people when a prize is dangled before them.
Why you should be more careful
The survey found that an astonishing 22% of us would give out all three pieces of information – name, address and date of birth – in order to enter a competition without checking if it's a real offer. That information is enough to get a criminal started on stealing your identity.
“Our research shows Brits are much more willing to take a risk with their personal information if they think there is a bargain to be had,” says Stuart Skinner, director of fraud at Nationwide.
“It’s very easy to be swept away with the prize on offer and not stop to think whether it is valid. Our advice is, if something seems too good to be true, it usually is, so it’s wise to be suspicious.”
How to spot a dodgy competition
Before you enter a competition or prize draw take these steps to make sure it's genuine:
Do your maths
If a competition is promising to give away several very expensive prizes, such as luxury cars or overseas holidays then a quick tot up of the value should make you realise the prizes are too expensive for any company to want to give them all away.
Equally, a competition offering lots and lots of low value prizes – some even say everyone will win – should also set off alarm bells as being too expensive for the company running the competition.
Be wary of surveys
Some fake competitions will ask you to fill out surveys on a third-party survey website in order to ‘prove you are human’. This is just a way of getting hold of lots of info about you that, in the best case, is sold to loads of marketing companies, or in the worst case, is used to steal your identity.
Check for terms and conditions
If there aren’t any terms and conditions this is a clear warning sign.
A genuine company running a competition will, at the very least, have details of when the deadline for entries is, when the draw will take place and how winners will be notified. If this is missing steer clear.
Cost to claim
A lot of dodgy competitions will tell you that you have won a prize, but in order to claim it you have to ring a premium rate number that costs around £1.50 a minute. The average cost of this scam per person is £80, according to Watchdog.
If you are told you’ve won a prize in a competition you don’t remember entering, think twice about following it up.
Trust your instincts
If you aren’t sure about something don’t hand over any information. “People should take a bit of time to do some research and check the source is valid, particularly if it’s a website they are using for the first time,” says Skinner.