Tag Archives: Giveaway

ANATOMY OF A SCAM LETTER

scam bulldog

Just this past week I received a tricky scam letter telling me “CONGRATULATIONS” because I had won the Sol Pacifico Cerritos “Great Giveaway” Contest.

I looked at all aspects of the notification letter to conclude that this was a scam.  Here are some of the things to look for.

  • Does the sender’s e-mail address (or name) exist at the company it claims to be from? Either a Google search or visiting the company’s website and doing a search should yield an answer. In the case of my letter, while the company existed, the name of the person it was sent from did not.
  • Check the date of the e-mail against the date the contest ended. If the contest ended quite a bit in the past and you are just getting notified, it should be a red flag.  While it is possible to receive notification months after a sweepstakes ends, it is just one of several things to consider together with other clues.  Checking the rules for the contest end date and drawing date will help decipher the answer.
  • Does the letter address you personally? Usually you must provide your basic information, including your name, to enter a sweepstakes. If the letter merely refers to you as “winner” then that is a red flag.  But again, this should be taken with all other clues.  Today I received a win notice that referred to me as “winner” but turned out to be legitimate.
  • Does the contest exist and did you enter it? Search for the name of the contest online. If you cannot find it referenced anywhere, it probably does not exist.  Also, if you did not enter the contest, whether it exists online or not, then you did not win it. In the case of my letter, I could not find that any such contest existed.
  • Does it cost money to claim your prize? On my letter, the prize description was for Free Roundtrip Airfare Tickets from certain airports.  However, upon closer examination, the redemption instructions included having to buy a 5-night minimum stay at their resort.  IMPORTANT: You never need to buy anything to claim a legitimate sweepstakes prize.
  • If the letter has an option that says, “Click here to leave mailing list,” that is a sure sign that it is not a personal letter, but rather a pitch that has gone out to an entire mailing list.
  • Are there links? Please do not click any links in the e-mail until you have verified that your win is legitimate.  These could be used by scammers to verify your personal information.

New Layout

Shine On Owl

As you may have noticed, there is a new layout and color scheme to the blog since your last visit.  I wanted to make it more fun to look at, as well as more colorful.  Plus I loved the owl with the phrase Shine On because according to the Urban Dictionary, that phrase means: “The act of showing off your bling or expensive thing that glistens or “shines” in the light that is a sign you have excessive amounts of money (Rims, diamonds, gold, silver, etc.)”  What better phrase for a sweepstakes website?!

Turning Down a Prize

thank you lemur

I’ve been meaning to write a sweepstakes post about this since the beginning of January.  What happens if you need to turn down a prize and why might you do so?  Well, January 9 was the first time I had to deal with these questions in all my years of sweeping.  At that time, I got an e-mail that I won an Oscar Red Carpet Experience in the PEOPLE’s Red Carpet Oscars Fan Experience 2017 Sweepstakes. At first I was excited at the prospect of getting to view the Oscars and see all the stars!  But then I realized certain expenses such as airfare were not covered.  I knew it would be difficult to come up with the extra money at that time, but also did not want to miss out on a once in a lifetime experience.  I am a member Sweeties Secret Sweeps which has a forum where fellow sweepers can ask each other questions and advice.  I posted my dilemma there, and got responses ranging from people that had won this prize in previous years and recommended going, to those that said the expense did not seem worth what you got unless you were a superfan.

In the end, I simply sat down and added up all the potential expenses and compared that to the value of the trip, and I decided that it was not something I should do at that time.  What should you do if you are in a similar situation?  While it’s an individual choice, an article on The Balance may help you make that decision.  The article talks about avoiding turning down prizes, reasons for turning down prizes, and how to turn down the prize.  You can check out this article here.

While I hope you will never have to face this dilemma, some of the ideas and advice in this post and that article should help you make an informed and satisfactory decision.

Sweepstakes Resolutions

newyearpop

While 2016 was my best sweepstaking year yet, I’m still not sorry it’s over.  During the year I was diagnosed with melanoma, but it was successfully removed.  In fact, tomorrow is my first three month check up since the surgery.  Last year I also submitted a proposal to teach a class on sweepstaking for community education, but it was denied.  So I have some strong resolve for 2017 to accomplish the following:

  • Schedule monthly meetings of the Boise Sweepstakes Club. If you live in Idaho and want to check us out see our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/boisesweepstakesclub
  • Enter even more sweepstakes
  • Reapply to teach my sweepstaking class, and if my proposal is still rejected then hold a free public class at the library
  • Last year I was rattling around some thoughts on writing a sweepstakes memoir. I hope for 2017 that I will finally put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and get it done!

How did 2016 turn out for you?  Do you have any new sweepstakes resolutions for 2017?  Please let me know in the comments.  Hopefully we can help keep each other motivated this year!

Book Review, Interview with Tyneisha Fondren, and GIVEAWAY!

After reading – and loving – Tyneisha Fondren’s first book on the hobby of sweepstakes called Winning Is Not For The Lucky: A Friendly, Creative, And Unique Guide To Entering Sweepstakes (reviewed in my Dec. 24, 2015 post), I went in search on Amazon for more incredible sweeping advice from her.  Luckily, I did not have to wait long!  In January, Fondren published her second book on sweepstakes Tweet Your Way To Prizes: How To Use Twitter To Find, Enter, and Win Sweepstakes.

One thing I like about this book is that whether you’re a beginner or a more seasoned sweeper, there is information in it that will be valuable to you.  Let’s take myself as an example.  I would consider myself a more seasoned sweeper in that I have been entering sweepstakes on a regular basis for about 5 years.  However, most of my entries are the forms on sponsor websites and to some extent Facebook entries.  My working knowledge of Twitter was minimal, and certainly not enough to effectively find and enter sweepstakes.  I had a Twitter profile, knew the basics of retweeting, and because I didn’t really understand how hashtags worked, I had unsuccessfully entered to win through one Twitter party.

Tweet Your Way To Prizes was a game-changer for me.  This book will both show you the basics of Twitter and teach you how to locate and enter sweepstakes using this popular social media platform.  If you think you may not need to utilize Twitter to win prizes, think again!  Fondren shows you the growing importance of Twitter in hobby sweeping today, and the sheer number of additional sweepstakes you could be entering through this method.

Step-by-step Fondren’s book will help you optimize the set-up of your Twitter account to be the most successful at sweeping, while also showing you how to use your account effectively.  You will learn fast and simple methods for finding sweepstakes for things you want to win, techniques to avoid scams, using retweets and hashtags, participating in Twitter parties, and much more!  As a bonus, the book also offers an interesting interview to offer another point of view.

So no matter if you are looking for a complete guide to using Twitter to help boost your sweepstakes hobby, just need a few tips and pointers, or want a refresh on an important social media platform, Fondren’s book will have what you are looking for.  You can pick it up on Amazon HERE.

author interview

I was fortunate to be able to ask Tyneisha Fondren some questions about sweeping, her books, and life as an author.  Here is my interview with her:

Q. How long have you been entering sweepstakes and what brought you to the hobby?

A. I first started sweeping in October of 2012. I was actually on the hunt for freebies and coupons as I was looking for a way to help my family save money. I ran across an article about this sweepstakes hobby so after a little more digging I joined one of the main sweepstakes sites and started entering. I was an unorganized mess but I won a Puma gym bag that first month and there was no looking back!

Q. Your first book on sweeping, Winning is Not For The Lucky: A Friendly, Creative, and Unique Guide To Entering Sweepstakescame out in December 2015.  What initially inspired you to write books on the hobby of entering sweepstakes?

A: I wasn’t sure I should write anything about sweepstakes at first, to be honest. I’ve been sweeping less than 4 years and I’m still learning so much every day. But I love to write, and I love this amazing hobby, so I thought, why not combine the two? I really feel like there is so much out there for everyone to benefit from entering sweepstakes so if I can help people find the same excitement that I’ve found by sweeping, that’s what I want to do!

Q. In your second book, Tweet Your Way To Prizes: How To Use Twitter To Find, Enter, and Win Sweepstakes  (published Jan 2016), you hone in on one method of sweepstakes entry.  Was there a personal experience that inspired you to focus on Twitter?

A. I’ve been pretty successful on Twitter when it comes to winning. I’ve won gift cards, electronics, beauty products, clothes, and so much more. I’ve found sweepstakes that literally had only a single entry, and I’ve won them. I’ve seen people say that they avoid Twitter because it seems complicated but my experience has been the opposite. There is GREAT potential to win amazing prizes through Twitter so I wanted to get more in depth and hopefully show people how they can better utilize it to win.

Q. What was the hardest part about writing your books?

A. I didn’t use an outline to write my first book, so that one was harder. I prefer to write as I go but it’s an easy way to get writer’s block too. When that happened I would take a break and do a few sweeps. For the second book I outlined everything first and ended up finishing 2 weeks ahead of schedule. So I guess staying organized and focused was the most difficult part.

Q. Did you learn anything while researching and writing your books?

A. I learned that there is still a stigma associated with sweepstakes. Many people look upon them negatively or think that they are all scams. It kind of makes me sad because I’ve won some amazing prizes for my family and I wish people would try to get informed on what this hobby is about instead of immediately looking at it in a negative way. I have friends and family that I know could really benefit from entering sweepstakes if they would just give it a chance.

Q. For both sweepers and authors, it is often hard to feel supported by those around us.  Other than family members, is there a person or place you go to for support?

A. One of the best parts of this hobby is interacting with other sweepers! I have a very small group of sweeper friends and we all support each other. Those ladies were nice enough to read my books and give me feedback. I TRY not to complain too much when I’m not winning but if I really need to, I talk to them. And of course my hubby and kids are my number one support system. Especially my hubby- he believed in me first.

Q. What is your latest news or current projects?

A. I’m hoping to have my next book out by my birthday, March 23rd. That one will focus on running an online business while taking care of small children. As a stay at home mom of 3 kids aged 3 and under, I can tell you that there is an entirely different set of challenges when it comes to being a small business owner and a parent of little ones. It won’t be a sweepstakes book per se, but I WILL be talking about how sweepstakes can help get your online business off the ground through gift cards and such, so stay tuned for that!

Q. Do you have any bottom line advice on entering sweepstakes for your readers?

A. If this is something you want to do, first set any doubt aside. You are a winner, and you will win. If you can’t accept that first part, don’t expect to be successful. Next, have no excuses. Through the Internet, you can learn anything you need to win; there is no “I can’t” or “I don’t know how”. I will Google the heck out of something if I don’t know it! Get organized, make friends, maximize your time, and of course, enter, enter, enter!

Giveaway graphic

This giveaway is now over.  Thank you to all who participated!  The winners have been contacted.