Are Reader's Digest Sweepstakes Scams?

Can You Trust Sweepstakes From Reader's Digest?

Businessmen stealing bags of money
Reader's Digest Sweepstakes... Can They Be Trusted?. Oivind Hovland / Getty Images

For many years, Reader's Digest kept up with Publishers Clearing House by offering big sweepstakes with enticing prizes. Now, while Reader's Digest still offers big giveaways abroad, their U.S. branch seems to be offering smaller, more targeted sweepstakes. But are those sweepstakes trustworthy?

Many people wonder why they don't know anyone who's won a major prize from Reader's Digest. Are the prizes really awarded, or is entering just a waste of time... or worse, an invitation to identity theft?

The answer? Reader's Digest sweepstakes are legit, just hard to win.

You Really Can Win Reader's Digest Sweepstakes... With a Lot of Luck

Reader's Digest's sweepstakes are not scams. RD is a legitimate company that's famous for million-dollar creative presentation sweepstakes, which they advertise both online and through direct mail. These big giveaways are a marketing tactic to spread the word about their magazine and encourage more sales.

Although they're legit, don't bet on actually winning a Reader's Digest giveaway. They have very long odds. Some of their creative presentations have odds of 50 million to one and more. But even though the odds of winning are as long as many lotteries, they have a big advantage over lotteries: You don't have to pay to enter, so you have no ​risk.

Aside from their million-dollar giveaways, Reader's Digest also offers other giveaways throughout the year, many of which have smaller prizes and better odds. In the United States, most recent Reader's Digest sweepstakes seem to be this kind of giveaway.

Some people worry that Reader's Digest sweepstakes are scams because they don't know any winners. But with millions of entries into the big giveaways and only one big winner each, it's not surprising if none of your personal friends are winners, even if they've been entering for years.

However, it's not hard to find out who's won recently; Reader's Digest's big winners are usually announced in the news, on YouTube, and/or on the country's local RD website.

Reader's Digest Sweepstakes Scams Do Exist

So if Reader's Digest's sweepstakes are legitimate, why do you hear about people being scammed when they respond to win notifications? Sadly, it's not unusual for scammers to misuse the name of reliable companies to make themselves seem more trustworthy.

This is a problem that many large companies face. Heineken and Publishers Clearing House are also common targets of look-alike scams. Luckily, it's usually pretty easy to tell the difference between the scams and real wins.

If you receive a win notification from Reader's Digest sweepstakes, follow the tips for identifying the warning signs of sweepstakes scams before responding.

Some important questions to ask yourself before you respond include:

  • Did you really enter the giveaway named in the win notification?
  • Does the win notification come from a legitimate Reader's Digest email address? Or if it came by mail, did it come by regular or registered mail (higher chance of being legitimate), or did it have bulk rate postage (higher chance of being a scam)?
  • Is the sender asking for money, a wire transfer, a credit card number, or a bank account number before releasing the prize?

It's also a good idea to review the things that aren't signs of sweepstakes scams to see what's normal when you win sweepstakes so that you don't turn down a legitimate win.

Be sure to read the fine print of any notices you receive. Some of the RD sweepstakes ads you receive by mail might seem, at first glance, to indicate that you've already won or that you'll have a higher chance of winning if you buy something. Be sure to read the information you receive carefully to see how to enter without making an unwanted purchase.

If you still aren't sure whether you have won a legitimate prize or not, you can call RD's customer service line at 1-800-310-2181 to ask for more information. Never call a telephone number included in a win notification to check for legitimacy. Scammers will direct calls to a number that they can answer to try to trick you into believing they are legitimate.

Are Sweepstakes Worth Entering?

Just because Reader's Digest sweepstakes are legit doesn't mean that they are worth your time.

If you're excited about entering the sweepstakes that Reader's Digest has to offer and you're having fun with them, then go ahead and enter. But remember that the odds of winning are long, so don't get frustrated if you don't win. Make sure that you also enter sweepstakes with better odds of winning so that you regularly receive prizes.