Have you ever been to a home show? If you have, you've probably seen "free-drawings" for household repairs or improvements.
Many of those companies hold the "contests" in order to get "potential client" information, such as home phone number, address, and eventually, your money.
The company will claim that they are holding a "free-drawing" for, oh, lets say 6 free windows plus installment. You give your name, address, and home phone number and within one to two days, someone will call you not to announce that you are the winner, but that you are eligible for a "free estimate."
Don't be fooled! You have no chance of winning these contests because no "drawing" ever takes place! You are providing a business with your personal information and consenting to be contacted by the company. The free estimate is normally called a "lead," in which a telemarketer will try to schedule an appointment for the business to stake out your home and see what kind of money they can make off of repairs or installation of upgrades.
Many people are tricked into consent by filling out the card and checking off a box in a section that requests information. By checking off these boxes, you are saying, "Well, if I don't win, tell me more about this product..."
To avoid one of these phone calls, you should write DO NOT CALL UNLESS A WINNER on the card. If the company calls you anyway, you must tell them DO NOT CALL, and they are required by law to take your name and phone number off of their lists.
As for telemarketers in general, there are specific times when they may not call and laws they must abide by. If you do not wish to speak to them, instead of saying "I'm eating dinner," tell them to remove your name and phone number. Check with the Federal Trade Commission for more information. http://www.ftc.gov
Before you sign up for a contest, here are signs as to its legitimacy:
Fake contests will have no rules. Ask for a copy of the rules, and if you are not provided with a copy or an original is not shown to you, the contest is a phony.
Ask several people about the nature of the contest. If everyone is willing to give you answers or information is conflicting, the contest is fake. This is because the company will normally instruct their salespeople to "make it up as they go along."
Ask for clarification. If you are speaking to a salesperson who does not know an answer but does not direct you to an informative source, the chances are very likely that it is a fake contest.
Salespeople are very focused on their contest rather than their company's products when they are conducting a fake contest. If they seem more concerned with getting you to sign a "free drawing" card than showing you around the display area, the company is most likely hosting a fake contest.
If you discover one of these contests, you can suggest an investigation to the Better Business Bureau or the Federal Trade Commission. Also, be sure to check into local laws concerning free-drawing" contests. Many states consider this a lottery of sorts and hold strict regulations as to how they are conducted.