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Legal Concerns

While there are many laws and regulations that govern the running of a legitimate sweepstakes, the one rule all consumers should remember is that for any legitimate sweepstakes, no purchase or fee is ever necessary to enter, claim a prize, or win.

In addition to the many state laws that govern sweepstakes promotions, the Federal Deceptive Mail Prevention and Enforcement Act grants powers to the U.S. Postal Service to protect consumers against those who may use deceptive mailings and misuse sweepstakes promotions. The law applies to sweepstakes sent through the U.S. Postal Service and strictly prohibits false representations in promotions that represent:

  • That the recipient is a winner, unless that person has actually won a prize.
  • That the recipient must order to enter.
  • That an entry must be sent in with payment for a previous purchase.
  • That the recipient must make a purchase in order to receive future sweepstakes mailings.
  • A fake check, if it does not include a statement on it that it is non-negotiable and has no cash value.
  • Any seal, name, or term that implies a federal government connection, approval, or endorsement.

In addition, consumers have the right to stop receiving sweepstakes mailings. Sweepstakes promoters must give consumers a reasonable way to request removal of their names from mailing lists. Marketers must maintain a record of all “stop mail” requests and suppress the names for five years. If you wish to have your name removed from PCH solicitations, click here.

The U.S. Postal Service can stop mailings from being delivered, and marketers are subject to substantial penalties for noncompliance with the law, including the failure to set up a reasonable system to prevent unwanted mailings.

Need more information on sweepstakes? Helpful information can be found through publications provided by The Federal Trade Commission (FTC):

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