Deceptive Mail Prevention and Enforcement Act

The Deceptive Mail Prevention and Enforcement Act of 1999 requires mailings to clearly display on rules and order forms, that no purchase is necessary to enter contest and state that a purchase does not improve the chance of winning. They must state the terms and conditions of the sweepstakes promotion, including rules and entry procedures; the sponsor or mailer of the promotion and principal place of business, or other contact address of sponsor or mailer; estimated odds of winning each prize; the quantity, estimated retail value, and nature of each prize; and the schedule of any payments made over time. The act imposes requirements for mail related to skill contests mailings, which must disclose the number of rounds, cost to enter each round, whether subsequent rounds will be more difficult, and the maximum cost to enter all rounds; the percentage of entrants who may solve correctly the skill contest; the identity of the judges and the method used in judging; the date the winner will be determined, as well as quantity and estimated value of each prize. The law imposes new federal standards on facsimile checks sent in any mailing. The checks must include a statement on the check itself that it is non-negotiable and has no cash value. The law prohibits mailings that imply a connection to, approval of, or endorsement by the federal government through the misleading use of a seal, insignia, reference to the postmaster general, citation to a federal statue, trade or brand name, or any other term or symbol, unless the mailings carry two disclaimers. The law requires companies sending sweepstakes or skill contests to establish a system and include in their mailings a telephone number or address, which consumers could use to have themselves removed from the mailing lists of such companies. The U.S. Postal Inspection Service is responsible for investigating cases of fraud when the U.S. Mail is used as part of the scheme.


Inside Deceptive Mail Prevention and Enforcement Act