Tag Archives: Sweepstakes Reporter Company

Don’t pay for a sweepstakes list, you never have to pay to play

By Robb Hicken/ BBB’s chief storyteller

When Toni, of Payette, sent $12 to the American Sweepstakes Publishers, she was certain her entry would be a winner.

“It only asked for a $12 processing fee, and the awards was mine,” Toni says.

Little did she know that the fine print reads that her fee is not an entry to a specific contest or sweepstakes, but rather providers the consumer with a list of sweepstakes he/she may want to enter.

The cash-for-a-sweepstakes-list pitch is not new to the Treasure Valley. BBB began reporting on these pitches around 2003. Nationwide, consumer complaints about sweepstakes are on the rise, BBB reports.

All states consumer protection agencies, under the attorneys general, receive complaints about sweepstake “lists.” Promoters of sweepstakes are criticized for consistently leading people to believe they’ve won high-value money – using terms like guaranteed, confirmed and verified – and convey a sense of urgency, though the advertisements are mailed year-round and no deadline is established. The advertisements also feature confusing and ambiguous language that could lead consumers to believe they have won money. All advertisements from the company feature a small-print disclaimer explaining that the company does not offer or guarantee prizes.

How can you tell the difference between a real sweepstakes and a scam? Legitimate sweepstakes are fun and free. They specify that no purchase is needed to win and buying a product will not increase your chances of winning – you never have to pay to collect a prize.

Ask yourself these questions before you send off your cash:

  • Does the promoter ask for your credit card number, checking account number, bank account information, or other personal account information? A legitimate prize company won’t ask for this to declare you a winner.
  • Do they ask you to wire money or make a payment in an urgent manner? Do you feel pressure to make a payment within a given time deadline to collect your prize? Take a step back and evaluate the offer.
  • Does the advertising copy clearly state that no purchase is necessary to win and a purchase will not increase your chances of winning? You never have to pay to play or to collect your prize when the sweepstakes is legitimate.

According to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, inspectors nationwide responded to more than 82,000 mail fraud complaints in 2004. This year they’ve already responded to more than 53,000 complaints.

Postal Inspectors began an investigation earlier this year after receiving hundreds of complaints from people across the country about a solicitation congratulating them on winning a sweepstakes prize. Over 10 million notifications were mailed out.

The problem was, “winners” had to send a fee of $20 to $25 for “processing costs” to collect their prize. No legitimate sweepstakes offer makes you pay to collect a prize. In this case, there was no prize. Inspectors are considering criminal charges or civil penalties of up to $1 million for this scam, which involves various company names and more than 50 different solicitations.

– This post first appeared in The Idaho Statesman, Boise, Idaho.


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Filed under Code of Advertising

American Sweepstakes Publishers claims guaranteed sweepstakes info, not prize

By Robb Hicken/Chief Storyteller

His name is signed Michael Washington, with American Sweepstakes Publishers, and his promise is to give you $1 million, but you have to fulfill the deadline schedule in order to qualify. 

Security Fulfillment International, a division of American Sweepstakes Publishers (ASP), makes a guarantee, but doesn’t deliver a sweepstakes prize, at least that’s what the operator says when you call the number. The guarantee is that the documents have been sent to you.

“We research sweepstakes out and guarantee that they are legitimate,” the operator says, but doesn’t give her name (phone: 913-338-0715). ‘”We put the sweepstakes in the report and with the report, we provide the customer the address and the deadlines and the process they need to enter. They are not entering the sweepstakes by submitting the $12 processing fee, but subscribing to the report.”

She says ASP currently has 25 sweepstakes in their report. She had no response to how often the sweepstakes report is updated. The Report clearly states the information is “unique and confidential” as far as ASP has collected it, but continues to say, this information is available to anyone who chose to spend time and money to collect his data themselves.

“We have people that make sure they are legitimate sweepstakes, and make sure they are free,” she says. “Once we research and verify, we put it in the ASP publication.”

The report says the SRC (Sweepstakes Reporter Company) and ASP publications are published quarterly and monthly reports that give the latest, up-to-date information about sweepstakes offered by major sponsors. This information includes the sponsors names, prizes, deadlines and where to send the entries and how to enter.

“We don’t sponsor sweepstakes,” she says, and quickly referred me to Tricia Estes, at the corporate office, which was Opportunities Unlimited Publications. I called and left a message.

According to BBB records, Sweepstakes Reporter also known as S.R.C. and American Sweepstakes Publisher, based in Shawnee Mission, Kan.,  began business in September 1994. Sweepstakes Reporter does not conduct sweepstakes promotions, but researches and reports on sweepstakes. Sweepstakes Reporter sends out letters with “prize-winning information” for a fee of approximately $12.00. For the $12.00 fee a consumer receives a report that consists of information on sweepstakes conducted by corporate organizations not affiliated with Sweepstakes Reporter and information on how to enter those sweepstakes. It’s report clearly states “you have no guarantee of winning because you buy a SRC or ASP Publication.”

It does provide its mailing lists to companies whose products or services might be of interest to subscribers.

The company has an ‘F’ rating with the BBB.



Filed under News You Can Trust