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DMA, Postal Inspectors Join Forces to Help Consumers Avoid Sweepstakes ScamsNew York, NY, June 29, 2005 - Every day, thousands of Americans receive sweepstakes offers, but not all of them are legitimate. How can consumers tell the difference between a real sweepstakes and a scam? The Direct Marketing Association (The DMA) and the United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS) have joined forces to launch a nationwide consumer-education initiative to tell Americans how to avoid being scammed by fraudulent sweepstakes.
"Legitimate sweepstakes specify that no purchase is needed to win and buying a product will not increase the chances of winning," according to Lee R. Heath, chief postal inspector. "This consumer-awareness campaign points out the characteristics of fraudulent promotions to help limit the number of victims of these scams."
"The key message for the campaign," Heath emphasized, "is for consumers to understand that they do not have to pay to enter a sweepstakes or collect a prize. If the consumer is asked to pay, the sweepstakes is a scam."
Funded by the Postal Inspection Service, the campaign includes radio spots, print articles, and magazine ads. The radio announcement educates consumers on the elements of fraudulent sweepstakes and will be distributed to 6,500 radio stations nationally. The print article, "Avoiding Sweepstakes Scams," will be distributed to more than 10,000 weekly and daily newspapers. An ad campaign in several popular consumer magazines, including Sports Illustrated, Better Homes & Gardens, People En Espaņol, Soap Opera Weekly, and Star, will appear this month. In addition, 30,000 consumer alerts were placed in stamp orders by the Postal Service's Stamp Fulfillment Center in Kansas City, MO, in June.
Pat Kachura, senior vice president of Consumer Affairs at The DMA, affirmed, "The goal of this initiative is to provide consumers with the information they need to make informed decisions about participating in sweepstakes programs."
Added Michael F. Spates, acting Consumer Advocate"The U.S. Postal Service, through the Office of the Consumer Advocate, is pleased to be working in concert with The DMA and U.S. Postal Inspection Service to keep our customers informed of the pitfalls of sweepstakes scams."
The campaign directs consumers to the Postal Inspection Service and DMA online information, which provide details on preventing sweepstakes fraud and where help can be found. A Postal Inspection Service guide, Publication 546, Sweepstakes Advertising, is available online (www.usps.com/cpim/ftp/pubs/pub546.pdf) for viewing and printing at the Inspection Service Web site (www.usps.com/postalinspectors/). More information on DMA Consumer Assistance initiatives is at www.dmaconsumers.org.
About The U.S. Postal Inspection Service
The mission of the United States Postal Inspection Service is to protect the U.S. Postal Service, its employees and its customers from criminal attack, and protect the nation's mail system from criminal misuse. Postal Inspectors investigate any crime in which the mail is used to further a scheme-whether it originated in the mail, by telephone, or on the Internet. The use of the mail is what makes it mail fraud. If you feel you've been victimized in a mail fraud scheme that involves the U.S. Mail, you may submit a Mail Fraud Complaint Form online to the Postal Inspection Service (www.usps.com/postalinspectors/fraud/MailFraudComplaint.htm).
About the Office of The Consumer Advocate
The Consumer Advocate and the Consumer Affairs function listen to the voice of the customer and amplify the message to postal management. Data gathered through independent measurement systems and internal contacts provide a barometer of customer satisfaction and guide postal managers in actions needed to improve operating and service performance. Through proactive external messaging, the Office of the Consumer Advocate also channels information from the Postal Service to customers on postal policy and procedures and on ways to get the most from their Post Office.
About The DMA
The Direct Marketing Association (www.the-dma.org/) is the leading trade association for businesses and organizations interested in direct, interactive, and database marketing, which in 2004 generated more than $2.3 trillion in US sales, including $143.3 billion in catalog sales and $52.5 billion in Web-driven sales. In addition to catalogs and the Web, DMA members employ a wide variety of marketing media, including mail, e-mail, telephone, newspapers and magazines, interactive television, and radio, among others. Founded in 1917, The DMA today has more than 5,200 corporate, affiliate, and chapter members from the US and 44 other nations, including 53 companies listed on the Fortune 100. Reflecting the significant and growing role that direct marketing plays in today's advertising mix, The DMA's membership represents marketers from every business segment, including catalogers, Internet retailers, retail stores, nonprofit organizations, advertising agencies, financial services providers, book and magazine publishers, book and music clubs, industrial manufacturers, and a host of other vertical segments, as well as the service industries that support marketers.