Curran Warns Consumers About Sweepstakes: Don't Pay to Play

July 13, 1999

Don't fall for sweepstakes mailings that promise you that you are ‘guaranteed' to be the grand prize winner, says Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr. More than likely, the sweepstakes promoter has sent that letter to thousands and only wants you to order products, he says in the latest issue of his monthly consumer publication The Consumer's Edge.

"We hear this sad story over and over again from consumers who were led to believe they had won, or were very close to winning. These consumers lost a lot of money by ordering products and magazines they didn't need in the hopes of improving their chances of winning that new car or ten grand," Curran said. "Then of course they weren't the winner."

Attorney General Curran says consumers should know that they do not ever have to send any money or order any product in order to enter a sweepstakes or have an equal chance of winning.

Curran says sweepstakes mailings can be very convincing in their efforts to make people believe that they are about to win. They want people to respond, hopefully with a product order. Some sweepstakes that are outright scams ask the recipient to dial a ‘900' number to respond, for which a hefty fee will appear on that person's phone bill. Others may ask the consumer to send a "processing fee" with their entry.

"If you look carefully at these sweepstakes letters you'll usually see ‘You are the Guaranteed Winner' in big type and below it in very small type ‘...if you have and return the winning number,'" Curran said. "Another clue is to look at the postage. If it says ‘bulk rate' or ‘presorted first class' you know that mailing probably went to thousands of people. My best advice is always to throw these mailings away."

Curran's Consumer Protection Division distributes The Consumer's Edge statewide through more than 800 businesses, agencies, schools, unions, community associations and service groups. Groups interested in receiving a monthly issue should call the Consumer Protection Division at 410-576-6500.

For Further Information Contact:
Frank Mann
Special Assistant to the Attorney General
(410) 576-6357