Saturday, 27 August 2016

SPAM SPAM SPAM *not the musical!*

SPAM SPAM SPAM - companies who use comps to harvest your personal data

There are lots of real and great comps out there but there are also plenty of companies who are harvesting your data and using comps as a way of spamming you

This is some information that will hopefully help you make an informed decision about whether to enter the competition or not

Firstly SPAM sites (and no thats not Monty Python fan pages)

SPAM sites run legitimate competitions for the purpose of harvesting your personal information. By entering their competitions you agree to your information being used for marketing purposes and for it to be shared. They may also lead you on a wild goose chase to enter the comp by having you sign up to affiliated links.

The purpose of these sites is:

1. to get your information - they can then send you emails for offers and other sites. Any time you sign up to one of these they make money as they are the one who referred you

2. to sell your information - to other companies who will then spam you via post, email and the phone

3. to earn money from clicks on their site - to enter the comp you have to click on a link - every click on the link earns them money

4. to promote their site so it shows higher on search engines as the more visits it has the higher it shows in the listings - the higher it shows the more money they can make from ads

5. your name, address and other details get added to a 'soft' 'easy target' list. You then get less scrupulous companies and people using your information to aggressively target you.

The issue with these sites is not just that they sell your information on it's that its incredibly hard to get you details removed.

An example. 

You signup to site 1.
Site 1 sells your information to sites 2, 3 and 4.
Site 2 sells your information on to 5 , 6  and 7,
3 sells your information to 8, 9 and 10
4 sells your info to 11, 12, and 13 and so on.

You go back to site 1 and say hey take my details from your list which is fine. They remove your details BUT by this point another 12 sites have you details on their list and will therefore continue to spam you.

It can be difficult to tell if a site is SPAMMY or not.

Here are things to look out for:

1. If as part of the sign up process you have to sign up for other deals/offers

2. If during the sign up process you cant opt out of marketing information via post and telephone

3. If the T&C's have a phrase in there which says by taking part in the competition you agree to your details being shared / used for marketing purposes and if you dont agree you cant enter (It will be worded differently but that is the gist)

4. If you are sent a winner's e-mail where you DONT win outright - by this I mean an e-mail which says you have been selected as a potential winner of 'prize' and then has a link for you to click and follow or one that lists like 3 people's name including yours with text similar to " The following people have one of the winning tickets: Joe Bloggs, Bugs Bunny, Your Name - click here to confirm your entry"

5. A company that offers lots of high value prizes but appears to have no means of income or sponsorship for them - or a company website that is only giveaways and affiliated referrals.

For example a page might be called AllUkPrizes and list giveaways for Macbooks, iPads, Iphones, Holidays, £1000 shopping vouchers etc but has no other content other than links to offers and lots of ads. A genuine site that is giving away these type of prizes such as the Daily Star will have articles, content, sponsored ads and paid for content - it's also a site for an in-print magazine/paper and is a recognised name and part of a specific new group/company.

6. The site name is similar to that of a well known company yet is not affiliated with them in anyway

What can you do if you are signed up?

To be honest there isn't really a huge amount you can do!

- you can wait for the e-mails from them and look for the unsubscribe link at the bottom and click on unsubscribe. This should reduce the amount of junk e-mail you get.

- you can find the contact me section on their website and send them an e-mail asking them to remove you, or if they are uk based send them a recorded letter requesting they remove all your details - if they dont they can be taken to court - a bit extreme! If they are non-uk they dont have to comply

- you can set up a separate e-mail address just for comping and then it doesn't matter if its hugely spammed

- If giving your phone number never give your home number/landline. You could also 'mis-type' your mobile number so it's one digit out - you could also screen your calls on your phone - dont answer any numbers you dont know - look them up on google if they are known as spam/scam or telesales/nuisance calls add them to the your auto reject list - I've found that after about 2 weeks of daily calls being sent straight to my reject list the company gives up.

To be honest for most people these guys are an inconvenience that we are well able to deal with - the real problem is when a vulnerable person is targeted and bullied into giving money or buying into services they have no need for.

Below is a list of SPAMMY sites I have come across in my first year of comping. It's not an exhaustive list - there will be others. Also, these sites can and do give out prizes. I am not saying they are scams - I am simply saying that the cost of entering these sites is your personal information being compromised and used and sold. It is completely up to you whether you are happy for this to happen and to enter


Activeyou - activeyou
Britpoll -
Catalink -
FreeStuff -
GetMeATicket -
LoveMyOffers -
MyOffers -
OfferX -
Prize Reactor - - -
SoapboxSurvey -
SurPrizes - -
SurveySavers -
Swooosh -
TopFox - -
Vaniki -
Very Us -

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