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Official Opinions

 

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Commonwealth of Virginia
Office of the Attorney General

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For Release: September 9, 2010
For media inquiries only, contact: Brian J. Gottstein

Email: bgottstein@oag.state.va.us (best contact method)
Phone: 804-786-5874

 

Attorney General Cuccinelli reaches new agreement with Publishers Clearing House over allegations of deceptive marketing practices

- Language in company’s sweepstakes mailings still confusing - 

RICHMOND (September 9, 2010) – Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli joined 31 states and the District of Columbia today to announce a new agreement with sweepstakes company Publishers Clearing House over allegations of continuing deceptive marketing practices.

Earlier settlements with Publishers Clearing House (PCH) filed by several states in separate actions in 2000 and 2001 included specific conditions aimed at resolving the states’ allegations 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,

“Recent investigations raised concerns that Publishers Clearing House was not fully complying with a prior agreement and that consumers could still be confused by the nature and language of some of the company’s sweepstakes promotional mailings,” said Cuccinelli.

The stipulated supplemental judgment modifies the terms of the prior judgment filed in 2000 and was filed in Richmond Circuit Court today.   The supplemental judgment includes stronger provisions than the prior agreement, including conditions to help ensure that consumers are not further misled or confused by the company’s sweepstakes promotions. The terms of the new settlement also greatly increase the use of 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 cover the cost of the states’ investigations.

A copy of the agreement can be found at:  http://www.vaag.comhttp://vaag.com/Media and News Releases/News_Releases/Cuccinelli/Supplemental%20Consent%20 Judgment%20filed%20090910.pdf

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

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