WASHINGTON — Sweepstakes that use deception to lure people into buying magazine subscriptions or other products by mail could be fined up to $2 million under legislation introduced Wednesday in the Senate.
The bill would require sweepstakes mailings to clearly state that customers don’t need to buy anything to enter, said the measure’s sponsor, Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine. Sweepstakes offers also would be required to accurately state the value of prizes offered, the odds of winning and the name of the sponsor.
Fines would range from $50,000 to $2 million, depending on the number of pieces of mail sent.
“I’ve seen countless examples of mailings that deceptively promise extravagant prizes in order to entice consumers to make unnecessary purchases,” Collins said.
The state of Wisconsin sued Publishers Clearing House last month, accusing it of using deceptive advertising to persuade consumers to buy magazines and merchandise and of illegally targeting the elderly.
Last year, American Family Publishers agreed to pay Wisconsin and 24 other states $50,000 each to settle allegations of deceptive sweepstakes advertising.