iPad contests proliferate: beware of bogus ones

Beware bogus ipad contests
Beware bogus ipad contests

You see them at almost every corner of the Internet -- free iPads from contests that require you to do nothing but enter a drawing, write an essay, or tweet about it. It's a simple and relatively inexpensive ($499 is the entry price for a new iPad) way for a company to get people to its Web site, using social media to attract readers instead of paying for advertising.

But how do you know if the contest is legitimate or a ruse to get users to provide personal information to phishers? There are lots of telltale signs that a Web site could be phishing for your information, which we'll get to later. But first, why iPads, and why so many contests?