Are those "Congratulations, you've won ___" popups ever legit?

Yeh, I know, I’m a sucker. But a $500.00 Wal-Mart card sounded good enough that I decided it would be worth spending half an hour going through the redemption process and signing up for tons of spam. But I finally get to the end and the “free” card is dependent on signing up for a book/ CD/ DVD etc. offer. I tried picking the E-Bay credit card; but after struggling valiantly to decipher the boilerplate, I still couldn’t figure out the answer to a simple one-bit yes/no question: Would I have to pay money if I signed up for this card? I finally gave up.


No. They exist for the sole purpose of gathering information on you, especially your e-mail address. Fill one out and you will be spammed out the gazoo.

A former coworker of mine did one of those “Fill out this survey for a chance to win $100!” things once. To everyone’s slack-jawed flabbergastment(?), a few months later she got a check for $100 in the mail.

I’m not convinced this is completely accurate (although it may be a part of the picture). I think the idea is that you only get the prize if you sign up for lots of services or products. I’d be very surprised if you get the $500 certificate without spending a significant sum of money. Economic logic dictates that it cannot be any other way.

Actually, I clicked on one of those popups and went through the steps one time, just to see if it really was legit. I went through a proxy and used a throwaway Yahoo email address.

It shouldn’t come as any surprise that it was pretty bogus. In order to get the certificate, there were a number of conditions and purchases of other products (I remember one was a six-month AOL commitment.) Not only that, but you needed to get several friends to sign up for the products and services, too - and then, of course, they could qualify for the certificates by getting *their *friends to sign on, and so on…

The last time I stopped in at that Yahoo email account, it was filled to bursting with spam, “free offers”, “special programs” and all that. Make of it what you will.

They’re about as legit as an announcement that you won the Publisher’s Clearinghouse sweepstakes…sent by bulk mail.

Off to MPSIMS.

As I recall, the “Get a free iPod” a few months back was legit, and a few people actually got them, albeit a bit slowly.

Yeah, you would. I’ve filled 'em out, signed 'em up, willingly accepted an overload of spam (hey, if they’re going to pay me, I have nothing to lose). These credit card offers never fail to include in their terms & conditions the clause that the credit card must be used at least once for a purchase of X amount or a balance transfer or cash advance of other X amount.

Yeah, they’re legit but require the successful referral of several people and everyone involved gets their inbox flooded with spam.

Skepticism-sense tingling.

I don’t blame you. But it happened; I saw the check myself, and she went to the bank and deposited it, and it didn’t bounce.

I’m inclined to think none of them are legit, but I haven’t tried claiming any “prizes.”

When the “prize” is a vacation, however, I can pretty much guarantee that the “prize” isn’t free. At best, the “prize” is a discounted vacation you’ll have to pay for (probably more than you’ d have paid through Travelocity or Expedia)… plus an opportunity to listen to more sales pitches for time shares.