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14 Jul 2015
Contest services out to get your money

Have you received a cold-call from someone who claims that you’ve been chosen to take part in a special prize drawing by major Dutch lotteries? Enter now for a chance of winning one of the prizes, the caller will say. Listen carefully to the terms and conditions before you agree to anything, and remember that it’s your decision to take part or not.

Entering a regular contest
Prize competitions such as lotteries are games of chance where participants can win a prize or a premium without having any dominant influence on the outcome of the game. There are several parties who are offering subscriptions for regular contests. You pay a monthly fee, for example, to take certain in a number of competitions each month. You no longer need to solve crossword puzzles or to scour the internet for online contests. They will also tell you that some winners have not claimed their prizes and that their money will be divided among those taking part in these service schemes.

Don’t fall for such offers. Services that disburse unclaimed lottery prize money simply do not exist. Unclaimed prizes will be held by the lotteries themselves, not by any service company. And of course, these prizes can only won by the owner of the winning lottery ticket and by no one else.

If you have agreed to enter the competition, then contact the Netherlands gaming authority. You are entitled to a full and immediate refund of the amount paid from your bank, if the bank determines that a wrongful or unlawful direct debit transaction has taken place. This will happen if no prior written mandate has been given – a legal requirement which has been in effect since 1 August 2014. You must sign a form when entering a prize competition.

You will not be refunded if you have given a clear mandate for a direct debit to enter a game of chance. This should be done in writing. If this is not the case, contact your bank. You can then send a letter to the service company stating that the money has been wrongfully taken from your account. Sample letters are available through ConsuWijzer.