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Sweepstakes: "You May Already Be a Winner!"
If you have a mailbox, you have almost certainly received letters with bold headlines like these. These letters are promotions for prize sweepstakes - a kind of advertising that many people find irresistible...and very costly.
It is important to keep in mind that companies that use sweepstakes are not in business to give away prizes. They are in business to sell merchandise. Sweepstakes are simply a way to attract your attention to their products or services.
Top 10 Things to Remember if Entering Sweepstakes
1. Buying will not help you win and don't be fooled by differences in the handling of buyer/contributor and non-buyer/non-contributor entries.
2. You have NOT already won.
3. Responding to sweepstakes promotions - and especially buying anything - will cause you to get more promotions.
4. Never give a credit card number, bank account information, Social Security number, or any other personal information to someone who calls you.
5. If you have to pay anything to collect a prize, you didn't win.
6. Never pay "taxes" to a sweepstakes promoter.
7. Don't be fooled by deceptive envelopes.
8. What a telemarketer must tell you.
If you get a call from a telemarketer that involves a sweepstakes or prize promotion, the caller is required to tell you:
- The odds of winning a prize.
- That no purchase or payment is required to enter or win a prize.
- How to participate without buying or paying anything.
- The costs or conditions you will have to meet to get a prize.
9. Read the sweepstakes rules carefully, including any fine print.
10. You have the right to stop the mailings.