| NEWS RELEASE
UNITED STATES POSTAL INSPECTION SERVICE
For further information call:
Postal Inspector Paul Krenn: 703-292-3803
June 29, 2005
The DMA and Postal Inspectors Join Forces to Help Consumers Avoid Sweepstakes Scams
New York, NY -- Every day thousands of Americans receive sweepstakes offers, but not all of them are legitimate. How can consumers tell the difference between a real sweepstakes and a scam? The Direct Marketing Association (The DMA) and the United States Postal Inspection Service have joined forces to launch a nationwide consumer-education initiative to tell Americans how to avoid being scammed by fraudulent sweepstakes.
"Legitimate sweepstakes specify that no purchase is needed to win and buying a product will not increase the chances of winning," according to Lee R. Heath, Chief Postal Inspector. "This consumer-awareness campaign points out the characteristics of fraudulent promotions to help to limit the number of victims of these scams."
"The key message for the campaign," Heath emphasized, "is for consumers to understand that they do not have to pay to enter a sweepstakes or collect a prize. If the consumer is asked to pay, the sweepstakes is a scam."
Funded by the Postal Inspection Service, the campaign includes radio spots, print articles and magazine ads. The radio announcement educates consumers on the elements of fraudulent sweepstakes and will be distributed to 6,500 radio stations nationally. The print article, "Avoiding Sweepstakes Scams," will be distributed to over 10,000 weekly and daily newspapers. An ad campaign in several popular consumer magazines, including Sports Illustrated, Better Homes & Gardens, People En Espaņol, Soap Opera Weekly, Sports Illustrated and Star, will appear this month. In addition, 30,000 consumer alerts were placed in stamp orders by the Postal Service's Stamp Fulfillment Center in Kansas City in June.
Pat Kachura, senior vice president of Consumer Affairs at DMA affirmed, "The goal of this initiative is to provide consumers with the information they need to make informed decisions about participating in sweepstakes programs."
Added Michael F. Spates, acting Consumer Advocate, "The U.S. Postal Service, through the Office of the Consumer Advocate, is pleased to be working in concert with the DMA and U.S. Postal Inspection Service to keep our customers informed of the pitfalls of sweepstakes scams."
The campaign directs consumers to the Postal Inspection Service and DMA online information, which provide details on preventing sweepstakes fraud and where they can get help. A Postal Inspection Service guide, Publication 546, Sweepstakes Advertising, is available online ( www.usps.com/cpim/ftp/pubs/pub546.pdf ) for viewing and printing at the Inspection Service Web site ( www.usps.com/postalinspectors/ ). More information on DMA Consumer Assistance initiatives is at: www.dmaconsumers.org
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