Last week, we received a question from one of our readers:
“If the sweepstakes rules are 1 Entry Per Person, can I enter with my email address, and my wife enter with her email address, using the same computer IP address and same phone number? “
The question illustrates the importance of reading the rules very carefully. What I suggest, and it may sound silly, is to copy and paste all of the rules into a program like Word. I then increase the font size and carefully read each line; deleting information which is not relevant and keeping that which is. This makes it easier to spot no purchase necessary requirements, contest deadlines, and entry frequency rules.
If the rules do not explicitly state ‘one entry per person per household’ (or some variation thereof) then you are allowed to enter multiple entries. It is up to contest organizer’s to frame the rules in which to participate in; it is not up to contest players to second-guess the promotion. I would not be concerned with IP addresses since it’s entirely reasonable that a single connection is being shared amongst family members. Having said that, I would apply a caveat: social media based contests is where you need to pay close attention.
Increasingly as organizers turn to Facebook and Twitter to run their promotions, the issue of multiple entries on a single device can be a tricky one. If the rules do not state “one entry/IP address” (etc.) you should be fine to enter. Just be sure to log out and sign in with the other user’s account. Also leave some time in-between entries so it does not appear on their end that you entering through automated means or entering on behalf of another person. I would also contact the organizer and ask for clarification to ensure you are not unfairly disqualified, particularly if they use a slightly ambiguous rule like “multiple accounts are not allowed”. Is a husband and wife on one device considered multiple accounts? I would say no, but less tech savvy organizers may disagree.
Some of the more reputable contest organizers will actually program rules into their entry page. If it detects a duplicate (perhaps based on an email address) it will warn you that you’ve already entered. This makes it easy for the organizer to keep people honest and it ensures participants aren’t disqualified for an innocent mistake. For those contests which aren’t as sophisticated, it may not be a bad idea to keep track of the contests you’ve entered so you don’t inadvertently re-enter (and thus break any contest rules).
One final thought to consider is the ethical implications. Some don’t see an issue with a single person entering on behalf of their family members. Others may feel that each person should take the time and effort to enter on their own. It’s up to you to decide what you consider to be fair play and where your ethical boundaries lie.
Other Interesting Posts:
Reading the Rules and Finding Hidden Treasures
Do You Ever Have to Pay to Enter Sweepstakes and Contests?
The Federal Competition Acts in U.S. and Canada