How do I know if I’ve won a competition?

Have you recently started entering competitions as a hobby? It’s easy when you get into the swing of it – but although new compers might enthusiastically start entering hundreds of comps, they might not even consider how they might be contacted if they win!

You’d be amazed how many brands and agencies attempt to contact their prizewinners, but receive no response – and then the prize is given to a reserve winner. Don’t let this happen to you – this post will explain how winners are contacted, and where you should be checking for wins you may have missed. It will also advise you on common scams to look out for!

The CAP Code

In the UK, all prize promotions should follow the CAP Code. Guidance from CAP states that:

  • all marketing communications should include how and when winners will be notified of results.  
  • if there are time limits on claiming prizes these should be made clear in the terms and conditions to avoid unnecessary disappointment.
  • It is a promotor’s responsibility to ensure that they take adequate steps and make adequate attempts to contact winners and alert them to the fact they have won. Ringing a winner once will not be considered sufficient.

Unfortunately, the majority of promoters don’t follow the CAP Code. They don’t include anything in the T&Cs to let us know when a winner will be contacted, and – particularly on social media – most will only make one attempt to contact the winner, usually by tagging the winner’s name, which is unreliable. 

If you enter competitions, make sure you know how winners will be contacted. And check for winning notifications, emails and messages regularly!

Important advice

Always answer your phone

As a comper, you should always answer calls on your mobile phone, especially those that are Unknown Number or Witheld – even though your instinct may tell you those are spam calls!  A lot of promoters and agencies choose to hide their number and not leave a voicemail, especially if the prize is time critical, where they may move on to the next winner if you don’t answer your phone. This is the case for radio stations who call back their big cash winners – don’t be one of those losers who doesn’t answer within five rings!

If you do miss a call and can see the number, search for it on Google to see if the number belongs to a brand or agency (or more often, if it’s been reported as a nuisance call). If it’s a company that you recognise, you have nothing to lose by calling back.

If you get a winning phone call and are suspicious about it or don’t remember entering the competition, ask politely for the caller’s name and number. Scammers will usually hang up at this point.

Be aware of scams

Scammers are out there, and keen to take advantage of gullible compers by tricking us into believing we’ve won a prize! They send dodgy emails and text messages, and more recently they clone Facebook and Instagram accounts of real promoters, and send fake winning messages.

Always be cautious before you hand over personal information – and never make any payments to receive a prize. The posts listed below have lots of advice on recognising a scam, and if you’re still unsure, share screenshots on our SCAM advice post in the Lucky Learners Facebook group. 

How are winners contacted?

The guide below covers how winners are contacted for the different types of prize promotion. In the case of website or postal entries where you gave your address details at the point of entry, the prize may be sent out without you being contacted at all! 

In some situations, winners aren’t contacted at all – they’re publicly announced, and expected to contact the promoter to claim their prize! It could be a winner announcement in a Facebook post, Instagram story, email newsletter or blog post – so as compers, we really need to be keeping a lookout for our names!

Website competitions

For prize promotions hosted on a website, you will enter your email address and/or your mobile phone number. Winners will usually be contacted by email, although in some cases you might not find out at all until your prize arrives in the post, or in your email inbox. Lots of promoters will call their winners, especially for more urgent prizes (event tickets for example) – if the prize is time critical, they may move on to the next winner if you don’t answer your phone. Some promoters still contact winners by post – usually a letter in a LWE (Long White Envelope). 

Most winning notifications for website competitions are sent by email. If your inbox is full, use the search bar (look for the magnifier icon) to check it for any wins – include your junk/spam folders in the search. Search for email subjects and message content that uses keywords like congratulations, prize, runner up or winner.

If your inbox is overrun with marketing emails and spam, put aside time to sort it out and unsubscribe so your winning emails won’t get hidden under all the spam! My post Tips for a Tidy Inbox has lots of ideas. 

Instant wins

Instant wins promotions are fantastic – because you find out right away that you’ve won! Most instant wins are hosted on websites, although some can be entered by text or apps. Website instant wins will show you a winning message on the screen and then follow up with a confirmation email – be patient, the email can take a few days to arrive! If you do get lucky, always take a screenshot of the winning message just in case something goes wrong and you need to query a potential win with the promoter.  

Text competitions

If you enter a text competition, you’ll be informed of a win by text message or phone call. The text message might ask you to reply with your address details, or it might have an email address for you to contact. Beware of text messages that ask you to click a link to claim your prize though – this is a common scam which you can read about in my post How to spot a scam text message.

Some compers have a spare Pay-As-You-Go handset to use for comps – if you do this, make sure it’s charged up and you’re checking often for new messages and voicemails because they will usually have a deadline for prize claims. 

Mobile apps

If you enter a competition on a mobile app, expect a push notification or an email to inform you of a win. Check your settings on the app to ensure you’ve opted in to receive these!

Swipe to win

With a swipe-to-win promotion, you’re automatically entered into a prize draw when you make a transaction and swipe or scan your customer loyalty card (or app) – eg. Nectar, Shell, Iceland. Winners will usually be contacted via phone or email so the most important thing is to make sure your contact details are up to date, and that you’ve opted in to receive marketing communications from the company. Some swipe to win promotions are instant wins – you’ll be informed on screen if you win, but may also receive a follow-up email. 
Find out more about Swipe to Win promotions

Postal competitions

There are still competitions and prize draws that can be entered by post, and most of the time you will be asked to include a phone number or email on your entry. In some cases you’ll receive a prize in the post, or you may get a phone call or email first. 

Social media competitions

When you enter a social media competition, the promoter does not have access to your email address or phone number. They can only contact winners on the social media platform, so you must check your notifications and messages regularly for winning announcements.


If you win a competition by liking, sharing or commenting on Facebook, the promoter may:

  • reply to your comment, congratulating you and asking you to message them your details
  • add a congratulations comment to the main competition post, tagging you (you may not get a notification for this!)
  • comment on your public share of the competition post – watch out though, as this is a common trick that the Facebook profile cloning scammers use! Click on the company name and check that it links to their genuine Facebook page. 
  • send you a private message (a page can do this by clicking under your comment on a competition post, although sometimes one of the admin team may contact you using a personal profile). 
  • announce you as a winner in a new post or a Facebook story – this is often with no tag or message at all, so you won’t be notified!

To check your notifications, tap the bell icon. Unfortunately Facebook notifications are notoriously unreliable and if you do get tagged, it may not even appear on your list. It’s a good idea to befriend fellow compers who will be kind enough to tag you if they see you announced as a winner – and also do a regular search for your name in the Competition Winners group on Facebook.

If you like, you can set up email alerts for your notifications at – or on the Facebook app, tap the three lines, scroll down to Settings then scroll down again to Notification settings. Your inbox will get super busy if you do this – but you could use inbox filters to file all emails from into a special folder – then just scan this folder regularly for any notifications you may have missed. 

Don’t forget to check your Facebook Message request and Filtered Messages regularly just in case a winning message is hiding in there!


If you win a Twitter competition, the promoter will do one or more of these:

  • reply to your entry
  • tag (mention) you in a winning announcement
  • message you privately (a DM – Direct Message)

Replies and tags will show up on your notifications, which you can view by tapping the bell icon – in the tweets, promoters will usually ask you to DM them your prize delivery details. Depending on the promoter’s account settings, winners might not be able to do this – and that’s why you might see some winners tweeting promoters with ‘Please can you follow me so I can DM you!’

A DM is actually the best way to make initial contact with a winner, so they can confirm the winner is eligible for the prize before making a public announcement. If you don’t check Twitter daily, I recommend changing your settings so that you receive an email when you’ve got a new DM!

Watch out for hidden messages on Twitter too – message requests from people you don’t follow won’t be in your main inbox. Read my blog post How to check message requests on Twitter for more advice on this. 


Instagram competition winners are announced using one of these methods:

  • A comment on the original competition post, or an edit to the photo caption – these will appear on your Activity list (tap the heart)
  • A mention in a public Instagram story, which will pop into your message inbox – a story is only live for 24 hours so you need to be checking your inbox regularly! After 24 hours you’ll still have the mention in your inbox, but unfortunately you won’t be able to view the story any more so you won’t know if it was a winner announcement!
  • Announced in the caption of a new ‘winner!’ post, which will appear on your Activity list
  • A private DM (Direct Message) to the winner – this may go into your message requests, which are flagged up at the top of your message inbox

Instagram notifications can be as unreliable as Facebook, and quite often simply don’t appear in your activity list at all. Like Facebook, try to befriend busy Instagram compers who will tag you if they see you announced as a winner. If you save competition posts (tap the bookmark icon), you can also go back and check to see if winners were announced. Find your saved posts by tapping your profile pic, then the menu at the top right of the screen and tap Saved.

Like Facebook, Instagram is plagued by profile cloning scammers who send you links and ask you to pay to claim your prize. If you get a winning message, click on the link to the promoter’s profile and check it carefully to see if it’s fake. Some scammers copy profiles exactly, even copying all the photos from a brand’s grid to their scam page to make it look genuine. 


If you win on TikTok a promoter will either:

  • comment on your winning video
  • message you privately
  • post your winning entry as a new post on their account, and tag you in the caption

You can only message a TikTok account who you follow, and who follows you back (a mutual). To access your messages tap inbox on your home screen – then tap the paper plane arrow at the top of the screen. Look out for blue ticks to show an account is verified.

It’s helpful to edit profile and add a link from TikTok to your Instagram account – if a promoter has trouble contacting you, they can message you on Instagram.


If you enter a comment competition on YouTube, you’re likely to receive a reply to your comment if you win, with instructions on how to contact them – it may be by visiting the channel’s About page and sending them a message. Click the bell icon on your YouTube home screen to see all your notifications. 

Rafflecopter & Gleam

A few promoters – and most bloggers – use Rafflecopter and Gleam widgets to run their giveaways, so they can ask entrants to do multiple tasks. In order to enter these giveaways you must log in with your email address, or using a social media account. This will give Rafflecopter and Gleam access to your email, which will be passed on to the promoter/blogger if you win. They will usually contact winners using this email address, but some may find it quicker to contact you on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook if you entered on those platforms. 

The important thing to remember is that if you logged in to the giveaway widget using your Facebook account, and you win, you will be contacted at using the email you used to join Facebook – a lot of people don’t even know what that email account is, so it’s worth checking it’s an email that you still have access to!

More tips on finding wins

  • Find winning notifications posted on Facebook, in my Competition Winners Facebook group – you can search this group for your name or username. 
  • Search and for your name and username (and any common mispellings of them!)
  • Make as many comping friends as possible, so they can tag you if they post you as a winner. Choosing a memorable or unusual username helps with this!

Hopefully these tips will mean you never miss out on a prize!

9 Responses

  1. Gary says:

    Yesterday My wife was sent an email from a reputable source to state she had one a trip for 2 with flights hotel and an excursion while away. Today she has received another email to say that they made an error and she was actually the runner up and would receive a book etc. This seems to be horribly unfair or even a “fix” and anything in between.

    Is this allowed to happen? I would have expected the “error” to have been noticed immediately and corrected the same day not more than 24hrs later.

    • Di says:

      This is more common these days and unfortunately it’s usually down to a simple human error, where an administrator has chosen the wrong segment of a mailing list to send a specific email too. This isn’t an excuse as such, but it makes it incredibly difficult for a brand to actually fulfil the prizes if the email has incorrectly gone out to all entrants (could be 1,000 – could be 100,000!). Recently Maped Helix incorrectly formed a lot of winners they had won an annual Merlin pass – within a day or two an apology email went out with a £10 Amazon gift voucher code. Like you, I think it should be dealt with quickly but as you can imagine it’s an expensive problem to rectify so it probably needs quite a few team members in on the meeting to discuss the solution.

  2. cc says:

    Hi Di
    The Dangers of Twitter comps and how to spot a fake direct message.

    I experienced an issue on Twitter with a fake direct message claiming I had won a prize and using a companys logo to contact me.
    It looked genuine but was not. I was duped. Please be careful. It was reported and the necessary things were put into place.

    I was only following the competition provider and still got a direct message.

    • Di says:

      Thanks for the warning Caroline, sorry to hear this. It’s so easy to copy a profile on Instagram or Twitter, and although with bigger brands you can tell because the verified tick is missing, that’s much harder with smaller businesses. It’s a reminder to always tap the photo and visit their profile page to investigate before responding.

  3. KelleyP says:

    Thank you for this, I was more concerned that it was a genuine competition, which I did feel it was, so it’s reassuring to hear that it will be a little while yet. I’m not on Facebook for a variety of reasons, so I appreciate you responding to my comment.

  4. KelleyP says:

    Thank you for this comprehensive round up of checking you’re a winner and pitfalls to avoid. How long is normal to wait for a prize to be delivered after you respond to a winning email or text? Or are things slower with the pandemic? I won a £100 Tesco Giftcard in their YAYCATION competition and responded accordingly by email, including sending photo ID in July but didn’t receive a response nor have I received the giftcard yet? The competition has ended too. I wondered if anyone else who won a giftcard has received theirs yet, or should I email again to check all’s well? Thank you in advance to anyone who can help.

    • Naina says:

      Hi KelleyP, not sure if you are in the Facebook Lucky Learners Group, as we have a dedicated post for this.

      There was a final draw from unclaimed prizes/not won prizes after the original competition closed. Then someone asked Tesco when we could expect our prizes. They said 4 September which was Friday but no one has yet received their prizes.

      I think it is more likely 28 days from the round up comp which I estimated to be 18 September.

      With all these comps, it is best to check terms and conditions when entering. The t and c on this comp did say there would be a final round up comp, when it would be and prizes would be issued after that.

      Too many people start emailing and posting on social media a week after a comp has close asking where their prizes are. With those comps that do it properly, there are always t and c’s which make it clear when prizes will be issued. Usually 28 days after final draw. This one thought they have had to wait for people to send confirmation of being over 18 etc. so probably took a bit longer.

      • Di says:

        Thanks for the helpful response Naina! There are delays this summer due to Covid-19 and prizes are taking much longer than usual to be sent out. It’s always worth checking in a compers group as there are usually other winners of the same prize, so at least you know you’re all in the same boat!

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