Md. A.G. Reaches Agreement with Publishers Clearing House

Seeks to Resolve Allegations of Deceptive Sweepstakes Mailings

BALTIMORE (September 12, 2010) - Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler announced Thursday that his Consumer Protection Division along with 31 states and the District of Columbia have entered into a Supplemental Consent Judgment with sweepstakes company Publishers Clearing House (PCH) of Port Washington, New York. The Consent Judgment was filed today in Baltimore City Circuit Court and modifies the terms of a prior consent judgment filed in 2001.

The 2001 settlement with PCH included specific conditions aimed at resolving allegations by Maryland and other states that PCH engaged in deceptive marketing practices by mailing promotional materials designed to mislead consumers into believing that purchases would increase their odds of winning. The states’ recent investigation raised concerns that PCH was not fully complying with the Consent Judgment and that consumers could still be misled by the nature and language of some of the company’s sweepstakes promotional mailings.

“Especially in these hard economic times, it is essential that Maryland consumers making purchases from sweepstakes marketers like Publishers Clearing House are making those purchases because they want the product, not because they think it will improve their chances of winning,” said Attorney General Gansler.

The supplemental judgment includes additional restrictions on PCH’s marketing practices and also includes additional conditions to help ensure that consumers are not further misled or confused by the company’s sweepstakes promotions. The new settlement also greatly increases consumer surveys to ensure that consumers understand that purchasing does not increase their chances of winning a sweepstakes prize. In addition, the company agreed to pay $3.5 million to the states, of which Maryland will receive $40,000 for consumer education.

In addition to Maryland, states participating in the settlement include Oregon, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, District of Columbia, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

Source: Maryland Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler

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