Office of Maryland Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr.

January 3, 2001 Media Inquiries: Sean Caine 410-576-6357


Baltimore - Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr., announced that claim forms are being mailed to consumers who are eligible for a refund from United States Purchasing and Exchange, known as USPE, pursuant to a settlement reached between USPE and the Attorneys General of 49 states, including Maryland and the District of Columbia. USPE had been an aggressive direct mail retailer that used sweepstakes opportunities to entice consumers into buying USPE products. As USPE intended, consumers often bought unwanted and unneeded products with the misguided hope of increasing the chances of winning a big sweepstakes prize. The settlement, reached in April 2000, established a $30 million fund from which refunds will be made to eligible consumers and established stringent standards by which USPE must operate any future sweepstakes. USPE is no longer operating sweepstakes.

Consumers who spent $1,870 or more on USPE products in 1997, 1998 or 1999 are eligible to make a claim for a refund of all monies spent on USPE products during those years. The amount of the refund will be based on the total number and amount of claims made. Claim forms were mailed on January 2, 2001 and should reach eligible consumers within the next two weeks. The claim form requires only that the consumer verify or correct his name and address and sign a line indicating that the consumer desires to receive a refund under the Attorneys General settlement. Eligible consumers have been identified from USPE records, therefore, the consumer is not required to provide a list or proof of USPE purchases.

"Although consumers may not receive a full refund, certainly those who spent so much on USPE in the past could benefit from any funds received as a result of making a claim," Attorney General Curran said. "Therefore, I encourage eligible consumers to submit their claim forms by March 2, 2001."

Consumers who receive a claim form and need assistance and consumers who have not received a claim form by January 16, 2001, but believe that they are eligible for a refund, should contact the Attorney General's Office at (410) 576-6550. More information is available at the website of the independent administrator of the settlement: