If you ever are tempted to register at a "free lotto" site, I have put together this post to try to shake some sense into you!
This morning someone signed up and tried to post a link to a "free Powerball ticket" site, and so for kicks I checked it out. It turned out to be a great lesson in why you should never register at one of those sites.
If you think you're actually getting a free lottery ticket, think again.
If you think somehow the law must be keeping free lottery sites honest, think again.
If you think it's harmless to pass along a few pieces of personal information, think again.
If you think, "Hey, it's worth the small risk", think again.
These "free lottery" web sites rely on the fact that you're going to skip past the terms and conditions, because nobody really reads those things. They just enter their information lickedy-split and click Confirm. The "I Agree" checkbox is more of an annoyance than a warning.
The bottom line, which I will step you through in a moment, is that these "free lottery" web sites almost certainly do not purchase the tickets they promise, and even if they did, are structured in such a way that if your ticket won the jackpot you would likely never know, and even if you did know, you have no ownership or protection of the ticket, and they can easily keep the prize for themselves.
To add insult to injury, these companies promise to sell your personal information and you waive all rights to what they do with your information, including any mis-use of your information, and you give up your right to ask or demand that they stop selling your information — forever.
Let me show you what I found when I examined the terms and conditions in the "free Powerball ticket" site. My comments are in bold, followed by the actual unaltered text from the term and conditions.
Your personal information is going to be sold to several companies.
"In providing the Service, GoVista Marketing, LLC must make and retain copies of Customer information as submitted by customer through their use of the Service. In exchange for good and valuable consideration provided to Customer, each Customer grants to GoVista Marketing, LLC the right to use, reproduce, display, distribute, and sell information collected from or about Customer during their use of the Service, in any manner, and for any purpose, without limitation."
If one of those companies does something bad with your personal information, you can't do anything about it.
"Customer waives all claims and rights against GoVista Marketing, LLC and / or any user of data supplied by GoVista Marketing, LLC under this agreement."
All those companies that bought your information will be contacting you. (And you can't do anything about it.)
"Customer understands that said collected information will be used for marketing purposes and Customer will be contacted directly by GoVista Marketing, LLC partners, data purchasers, advertisers, and the like. Customer agrees to be contacted by GoVista Marketing, LLC and its affiliates and as such, waives all rights and claims against GoVista Marketing, LLC, its advertisers, affiliates, partners, and the like."
You won't actually own the lottery ticket that they supposedly buy. Unlike a butler service, this is not necessary from a legal perspective because you're not BUYING the lottery ticket, so it is ONLY being done in order to steal the prize from you. (If they happen to buy the ticket.)
"At no time does ownership of any Powerball ticket transfer ownership. All tickets purchased by GoVista Marketing, LLC remain property of GoVista Marketing, LLC."
Don't forget to write down that number you picked, because they won't tell you if you won.
"Upon a Powerball drawing corresponding to the Customer's successful registration, it is Customer's responsibility to contact GoVista Marketing, LLC in the event they believe their selected Powerball numbers are winning numbers - under the rules of the Powerball Lottery."
Unlike the Minnesota Lottery (where this company supposedly buys its tickets), if you don't contact this company in 30 days, you lose your "ticket".
"Winnings not claimed within 30 days of the drawing are forfeited by the Customer and shall become property of GoVista Marketing, LLC."
If you win, the company is actually the winner.
"A service & handling fee of 20% of all winnings shall be retained by GoVista Marketing, LLC."
Their terms protect the company when they DON'T BUY THE TICKET that they promise. They could even plant a spambot on your PC and not be held liable.
"GoVista Marketing, LLC also disclaims any warranty that (i) the Service will be free of delays or interruptions, (ii) the Service will be spam-free or error-free, (iii) the Service will be free of non-delivery or misdelivery, or of negligence or omissions, (iv) all errors in the Service will be detected or corrected, (v) Customer content, information or data will be secure or that Customer content, information or data will be preserved or free from loss."
If you win, they can terminate your account and say your entry was invalid.
"GoVista Marketing, LLC may terminate Customer accounts, and access to all or part of the Service, for any reason and without notice."
And the kicker: you cannot write to them and ask for your information to be removed. (I think that may be illegal.)
"GoVista Marketing, LLC will not provide notice of termination. Upon termination of any Customer account, GoVista Marketing, LLC has the right to retain Customer information and does not have an obligation to delete any of the Customer's content, information and data on GoVista Marketing, LLC's equipment or systems."
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I hope I can convince you: never, never, never sign up with a "free lottery" service, because you're not going to win a prize, and you are going to suffer when your personal information is sold and mis-used.