Info-Harvesters, how to avoid them! Stories

Like any other business, Competitions Guide has .. competition, which is a good thing. We are pretty proud of having the largest member base of any competition website in the country (and all members have to confirm their email address, so all of you have gone through the same process) but we still have to keep on our toes to keep you, our members, interested.

In the past few months we have seen the arrival of some new sites, and like anything that affects our industry, we keep a close eye on whats happening with them. Its unfortunate that by their very nature, competitions do bring out the odd scam merchants, and the methods are getting much more clever. We welcome any new competitor into our space, but equally need to make sure that our members are informed all the way.

Always be on the lookout for Info-Harvesters, which are basically websites that look legitimate but are only interested in getting your personal information.

When it comes to Info-Harvesters using competition websites, there are a few things that you should look out for:

- Does the site insist on only your ISP email address? What this means is the email assigned to you by your web provider, such as Bigpond, Ozemail, Optusnet etc. Web based email such as Gmail and Hotmail aren't as valuable to Info-Harvesters. Competitions Guide is happy for you to join with any email address you like.

-Did you find the site on the first page of Google? It took Competitions Guide several years to get on page one for the term Competitions. Info-Harvesters use a lot of tricks to get onto page one in a matter of weeks. They soon disappear, but during their brief stint manage to get hold of lots of information about their new members.

-Does the site identify themselves, or the people behind it? The site could be based anywhere in the world, and sometimes claim to be Australian even if they aren't. Competitions Guide has always clearly identified myself as the publisher, there's nothing faceless about us at all.

*My challenge to all competitions websites, is to put a name to your site, as well as your credentials (that means an actual first and last name, and photo)

-Does the site nominate their business address on emails? This is really important - if you receive an email without a street address, delete it immediately. Note, the same goes for PO Boxes, anyone from anywhere can get one.

-Does the site claim to be free to both members and competition publishers? The majority of competitions appearing on Competitions Guide don't pay to be there. But those on page one, and the two top slots of all other pages do pay. Think about it, if members aren't paying, and promoters aren't paying, they're either a charity or in business just to get their hands on your information.

-What kind of information does the site provide? Info-Harvesters like to add a whole lot of mostly irrelevant content to make themselves appear more real. A good way to do this is to add blogs that are mostly copied ideas (put into different words) or totally useless information that may appear attractive to Google searches.

The background of Competitions Guide is in creation of competitions, so we know a few tricks of the trade. If a competition site doesn't identify themselves or their background, what expertise can they really provide except for rehashing stuff that's already available?

Staying clear of Info-Harvesters is mostly as simple as questing the motives of any website before giving your information over. Any suspicions, just click your back button!

Yours Comp-letely,

Craig Seitam 15/8/12


competition online
I been in this competition for 2 years
and never won anything.
Erich (Member Number: 59023)
new info everyday
thank you for the info, i normally enter everything i can but now i will be on the look out.
Kellie (Member Number: 62615)
I have been on this site for 6 months so far i have won beauty products, dog food, cleaning products, chocolate and even a 3d video Camera! And i can enter all these comps knowing that they are real comp and not fake ones! Thanks compition guide you have giving me a new hobby with benifits!
Mandy (Member Number: 50956)
Pick of the crop!
Since the birth of my son a year ago, I started entering more online competitions. I had tried to stay away from competition websites as many seemed dodgy, but was recently recommended to look at Competition Guide. The first article I read was this one, and despite being previously involved in investigating internet frauds and ecrime, I had never heard of the term Info-Harvesters (only the concept). You sound like you know what you’re doing, and I’m very happy to browse your site to see if I can increase my chances. Keep up the good work!
Amanda (Member Number: 146995)
Learn something new every day
To be honest, I never even thought about the fact that people could be simply trying to get your information. Thanks for this article, I might never have thought about it D:
Mikala (Member Number: 138015)
Thank you
I have recently moved back to Australia and wanted to enter competitions. I fell into the trap of entering loads but ended up receiving loads of useless and irritating emails.
Karen (Member Number: 134133)
Trust and Having Fun
First time blogger, (cross that off my bucket list) seriously, love your site, love the compeitions, havent won anything yet, but fingers crossed. Cheers
Lynette (Member Number: 77764)
Good advice - wish I got it sooner!
I got the competition bug only recently and have been a bit naive when it comes to these things, I get so much spam and so many dinnertime phone calls! I am a lot more careful now but it's taking a while to subside!
Kristine (Member Number: 146758)
Thanks for pointing this out, I have fallen in these traps in the past at times.I will be keeping a close eye on whom i give my Personnel Information too.
Thank You very much. :)
Christine (Member Number: 1074)
It's all fun and games... until someone pulls a scam
Thank you so much for all this information - this, is why I love entering competitions through competitions online it's so much more then just the comps it's the trustworthiness of the site and knowing I won't be led astray - especially with all the great information you provide
Lisa (Member Number: 117265)
Protect your email address
Thanks for this information. It alerted me to a few new things to watch.

I always use disposable email addresses specific to each website for entering competitions. If a particular email address starts getting spam, I know which website is sending it and I can report it - first to the webmaster of the site and then to ACMA if I don't get an explanation for the spam from the website. I can then delete the email address without losing anything except spam.
Merryl (Member Number: 56367)
I love your blog. I would also refer people to Scamwatch and get emails sent from this government organisation warning you about fake websites.
Louise (Member Number: 90513)
Reality check
Thanks for the warnings. I know I can get into "winning zone" - dreaming of all the glories that will come to me (and rarely do :) - and forget the perils. Perhaps CG can schedule monthly reality checks so I never get ensnared in competition romance to my detriment.
Lisa (Member Number: 16281)
Great Article
Brilliant info.
Ive actually noticed that many people simply dont read the terms and conditions of comps half the time and although some sound enticing if you read the details in full they require you so sign up with a dozen other businesses and give them all your info and if you dont then you are not in the running to in a thing.
I also find it invasive when they ask for your full birthdate. Why?...year and month is ok to establish if someone is of legal age to enter comp for such things as alcohol but do they really need the actual day of your birthday as well???
Annamaree (Member Number: 59730)
This is my first time on competition sites so this is very useful information.
Sara (Member Number: 146385)
Blown away
Iwas really amazed by what i have read ,i didnt know all this as i am a big fan of entering competitions,i have always wondered with some of the competitions i have entered ,and never be able to find the winners,it has really opened my eyes to what i enter now ,Thankyou you for letting me know.
Judith (Member Number: 45690)
Most of the other competition websites are unethical
When I first started comping, I shadowed a number of websites (without joining) and found most were doing things that were questionable. The ones that really irked me had chat rooms where compers shared answers that you could only get by purchasing magazines, watching shows, and so on. That completely negates the benefits of the competition for the company offering the prize. I also found that the same old competitions were being recycled through various websites, which for me was a lot of effort for little payoff. I'm not crawling when I say I'd rather just stick to the best website than trawl through a few. (Or maybe I am crawling, but it won't matter 'cos this is a draw anyway. See ... I do read the rules.) And just to stay in form (and not to break from the norm) I'll once again this time, make an effort to rhyme.
Simone (Member Number: 2251)
Didnt know!!!
Thankyou for the heads up, I was tending to be to trusting and was a little bit dubious ... Now I know why, thanks
Kerry (Member Number: 49665)
Sad But True
I firstly want to say that i love your outlook about competitors, rarely is anyone going to be alone with an idea but by staying true to your own site and by not trying to put down small sites that are trying to grow, you really attract nothing but positive followers. As for Info-Harvesters, I've had over my fair share of them! I always check the "contact us" button of suspicious websites to see whether their information is first even there at all and secondly if it sounds legitimate. I also disregard sites that appear too good to be true as usually they often are. If the site asks for too-personal details that you would not normally need to reply with in other competitions, i don't enter them. The same goes if they have any flashing adds that say I'm the 1 millionth person to click on the page and need to claim my "prize". Really though, it's just best to use common-sense or stick with competitions from company's and brands that you are already familiar with! I hope if anyone's reading this they find these tips helpful! :)
(Member Number: 24152)
Too much information!
Even reputable companies sometimes want too much information. Why do I need to give my birthdate? Surely just ticking an over-18 box is sufficient!
Anne (Member Number: 4483)
Always Be on the Lookout When entering competitions,
I love entering competitions, its a fun thing i like to do in my spare time.unfortunately you can get lured into giving your number and E-mail address and before you know it you check your email/mobile realise your getting so much spam emails, and text messages. It really can take all the fun out of entering competitions!

Kelly (Member Number: 4626)
Thankyou so much for writing such an insightful piece of information. I now can say I'm more Educated on scammers. Thanks.
Melissa (Member Number: 5286)
Competiton Saviour
After reading both your books, I now believe you have saved not only my computer being hacked but my personal details stolen. Competitions Guide, definitely a site to trust, Thank you very much. :)
Sarah (Member Number: 23610)
I try to only enter websites.
I find that when there is no au they can often be dodge.
Mandy (Member Number: 3297)
So dishonest
These sites ruin the enjoyment we get from entering comps. I try to stay away from sites which give freebies etc that are too good to be true. is the number one site in my opinion, keep up the great work guys :)
Antonietta (Member Number: 68774)
Interesting reminder for us all!
I agree with Sarah that you are always receiving emails saying that you have been selected as a possible winner along with another two names (presumedly fictitious. You then are asked to either answer a simple question or select the prize you would most like to win. Once you have done this you are then taken to the next page where you find you have to subscribe to a weekly service in order to be able to take advantage of even having a chance to win this prize. I have now learnt to recognise these emails from most and am able to delete immediately without even giving them the satisfaction of having even opened them.
Barbara (Member Number: 96571)
we are all basically honest so the thought of dishonesty doesn't come naturally.My inbox did get clogged with these and gradually they have now been eliminated.Thank you for all the great competitions.
Cheryl (Member Number: 87716)
I'm getting more clued in
I started to get into competitions a few years back and I did sign up to some dodgy sites. I now use a specific email address for competitions and I have a real good look before committing to anything
Natasha (Member Number: 20675)
Security risk wake up call
This article was a good wake up call for me. I wasn't aware what an information harvester or their attributes were until I read this article. Thank you for the wake up call. You have saved me from a load of potential trouble with my ISP who I have been with for ten years. I would hate to change and re communicate an email address because I was careless with entering competitions. Now that I know what an info harvester is I will think twice before entering.
Jenny (Member Number: 139513)
Eye Opening!
Thankyou so much Competitions guide for the in depth information regarding these sites.
So far I have not come across any, but at least now I know exactly what to look for!
Great blog post
Narelle (Member Number: 71454)
Oh I know this is true!!
Yeah I have come across quite a few that claim to be competition sites- all some of them ever do is send you hundreds of surveys that clog ur in box- others email and say that you have been selected to be a possible winner and you just have to answer a simple question (the answer is always obvious) then once you answer it tells you that you've won and that you should also sign up for these other great deals, and it keeps going and going- sometimes it asks you to put in your mobile number so that it can sms you- NEVER do that they can hook you in and you can get charges on your phone account. All I can say is that I am still waiting on my damn car and my iphone! The trick is to only enter competitions that are from places that don't claim to be freebee giveaways or survey places, and I have found you are best to only trust 'competitions guide' the others are just clogged up with dodgey sites.
Sarah (Member Number: 27016)
I have never heard of this before but thanks for the warning. I will watch out.. I tend to just enter anything but lucky I don't use my ISP email account.
Karina (Member Number: 1011)
You learn something every day:-)
I had no idea that isp emails were more valuable than hotmail-thanx for the heads up:-)
Linda (Member Number: 6397)
Emails, emails, and more emails!
Oh yes, I've fallen for a few of these "info-harvesters" they lure you in with amazing prizes, then just keep on sending email after email about more amazing prizes..... The thing is when I go back to check to see who's won, I can't find any winners names, etc. So I'm now more careful about what I enter but also with whom I enter it through...... Unless of course you like getting hundreds of spam emails daily..... ;)
Fiona (Member Number: 2124)
Thanks for the information, Craig. I know when I joined here, I was on a spree of joining competition and 'freebie' sites and didn't think too much about who I was supplying my information to. Very naive of me maybe, but you have certainly reminded me of the importance of checking everything online. Especially love the challenge to site providers to name and photo themselves! Great tips.
Hannah (Member Number: 141569)

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