DMA, USPIS Launch Initiative to Help Consumers Avoid Sweepstakes Scams

Share this content:
NEW YORK -- The Direct Marketing Association and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service announced a nationwide consumer-education initiative yesterday telling Americans how to avoid being scammed by fraudulent sweepstakes.

"The legitimate sweepstakes specify that no purchase is needed to win and buying a product will not increase the chances of winning," Lee R. Heath, chief postal inspector, said during a press conference yesterday at DM Days New York. "This consumer-awareness campaign points out the characteristics of fraudulent promotions to help limit the number of victims of these scams."

Heath said thousands of Americans receive sweepstakes offers daily, and "many legitimate businesses, such as Publishers Clearing House, use these offers to generate excitement about their products and services that they offer to consumers. But there are some out there who are trying to make a quick buck at the expense of the public, disguising their scams as sweepstakes."

The campaign was launched even though direct mail-based sweepstakes fraud has not increased recently, according to Heath, and the Deceptive Mail Prevention and Enforcement Act went into effect in December 2000. This law says mailings must clearly state that a purchase is not necessary to enter a sweepstakes and that a purchase will not improve the chances of winning.

"Consumer education is ongoing," said Pat Kachura, senior vice president of consumer affairs at the DMA, who also spoke at the press conference. "Every year, so many people turn 18 ... it's a new audience all the time."

The campaign does not address Internet scams, though the USPIS said it plans to begin a campaign focusing on this topic in October.

Heath mentioned an investigation that started earlier this year after the USPIS became aware of hundreds of calls from people nationwide regarding a solicitation that congratulated them on winning a sweepstakes prize.

"Over 10 million of the solicitations were mailed out to the public," he said. "There was only one catch: The winners had to send a fee, ranging from $20 to $25, for processing costs to collect their prize money. No legitimate offer will have to pay anything to collect a prize. And in this case, there is no prize."

Funded by the USPIS from fines levied against convicted felons nationwide for other fraud scams, the campaign includes radio spots, print articles and magazine ads. The effort will run for three to four months.

An ad campaign in several popular consumer magazines will appear this month. Also, 30,000 consumer alerts were placed in stamp orders by the postal service's stamp fulfillment center in Kansas City, MO, this month.

Melissa Campanelli covers postal news, CRM and database marketing for DM News and To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting

Loading links....

Next Article in Postal

Sign up to our newsletters

Company of the Week

We recently were named B2B Magazine's Direct Marketing Agency of the Year, and with good reason: We make real, measureable, positive change happen for our clients. A full-service agency founded in 1974, Bader Rutter expertly helps you get the right message to the right audience at the right time through the right channels. As we engage our clients' audiences along their journey, direct marketing (email, direct mail, phone, SMS) and behavioral marketing (SEM, retargeting, contextual) channels deliver information relevant to the needs of each stage. We are experts at implementing and leveraging marketing technologies such as CRM and marketing automation in order to synchronize sales and marketing communications. Our team of architects and activators plan, execute, measure and adjust in real time to ensure the strategy is working as needed and change things if it's not.

Find out more here »

DMN's Career Center

Check out hundreds of exciting professional opportunities available on DMN's Career Center.  
Explore careers in digital marketing, sales, eCommerce, marketing communications, IT, data strategies, and much more. And don't forget to update your resume so employers can contact you privately about job opportunities.

>>Click Here