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Illegal Sweepstakes Information

The Deceptive Mail Prevention and Enforcement Act was signed by President Clinton on December 12, 1999, and took effect 120 days after that date. The law requires mailings to clearly display:

  • Rules and order form, that no purchase is necessary to enter contest;
  • State that a purchase doesn’t improve chance of winning;
  • The terms and conditions of the sweepstakes promotion, including rules and entry procedures;
  • The sponsor or mailer of the promotion and principal place of business, or other contact address of sponsor or mailer;
  • Estimated odds of winning each prize; the quantity, estimated retail value, and nature of each prize; and the schedule of any payments made over time.

It imposes requirements for mail related to skill contests mailings, which must disclose:

  • Number of rounds, cost to enter each round, whether subsequent rounds will be more difficult, and the maximum cost to enter all rounds;
  • Percentage of entrants who may solve correctly the skill contest;
  • The identity of the judges and the method used in judging;
  • The date the winner will be determined, as well as quantity and estimated value of each prize.

The law imposes new federal standards on facsimile checks sent in any mailing. The checks must include a statement on the check itself that it is non-negotiable and has no cash value.

The law prohibits mailings that imply a connection to, approval, or endorsement by the federal government through the misleading use of a seal, insignia, reference to the Postmaster General, citation to a federal statue, trade or brand name, or any other term or symbol, unless the mailings carry two disclaimers.

The law requires companies sending sweepstakes or skill contests to establish a system, and include in their mailings a telephone number or address, which consumers could use to be removed from the mailing lists of such companies.

The U.S. Postal Inspection Service is responsible for investigating cases of fraud where the U.S. Mail is used as part of the scheme. Click here for a Mail Fraud Complaint Form.