There are thousands of companies which use sweepstakes cards
and letters to entice consumers to send money or to call and listen to a sales pitch. The California Attorney General, the attorneys general of other states, the Federal Trade Commission and the postal inspectors have prosecuted many of these companies criminally and civilly, but most disappear before action can be taken. In addition, the companies seldom are found in the same state as the consumers, making prosecution difficult; they often hide their true ownership, and often act just inside the law.
In all sweepstakes, the card or letter must give you the opportunity to enter without cost. Sometimes that information is hidden, but it is always there. If you are asked to call, you will be asked to buy an overpriced product or service or make a contribution. By law, the company must offer you some chance at the prizes whether you buy or not. If they do not, please write to our office. We advise consumers never to pay anything or buy anything or call a 900 number to win a sweepstakes prize. If you are interested in the sweepstakes, always use the free entry. Even then, the prize you receive may disappoint you. If you buy something to obtain a sweepstakes prize, you may be assured that what you buy plus the prize, no matter how good the prize sounds will be worth much less than what you have paid.