Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

Every day people receive postcards and packages in the mail announcing "You Have Won!" The US Postal Inspection Service tells us these sweepstakes are just clever marketing devices to catch peoples' attention. Typically, these are mailings from a con artist whose sole purpose is to rip you off or sell you something.

Washington’s Promotional Advertising of Prizes Act (RCW 19.170) requires sweepstakes promoters to provide consumers certain disclosures These disclosures must appear in the sweepstakes mailing, in the rules, and on the entry form and must be easy to find, read, and understand.

Sweepstakes Mailings Must Disclose:

  • A name and business address where the sponsor may be contacted;
  • The odds of winning each prize;
  • The quality, estimated retail value, and the nature of every prize;
  • All terms and conditions that limit the use of the prize;
  • All terms and conditions that disqualify a person from receiving the prize;
  • A conspicuous statement of any requirements to attend a sales presentation in order to claim any prize; and
  • A clear statement of the payment schedule for any prize.

Mailings Are Prohibited if They:

  • State or suggest a purchase is needed to win;
  • State that the prize is free, when the recipient is required to spend any money (such as shipping and handling fees) to receive it;
  • State the estimated odds of winning in a way that is likely to mislead;
  • Announce an individual has won a price, when he/she has not;
  • Contradict or limit the sweepstakes rules or disclosures required by law; or
  • Imitate government seals to give the impression they have been sent by the federal government. 

Helpful Hints:

Read sweepstakes rules and regulations very carefully, including the very fine print. If you're not sure about the sweepstakes or have a bad feeling about it...DON'T ENTER!

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