Safe Families

Aug 6, 2013 4:11 PM by MELISSA CANONE

Sweepstakes Clearinghouse mail-outs raise red flags with BBB of Acadiana

Residents in Acadiana has recently begun receiving "Prize Award Directive" letters from Dallas-based Sweepstakes Clearinghouse, claiming the recipients have been awarded a "Consolation Prize" in their $10 million sweepstakes giveaway.

The letter also includes several brightly colored $400 "check" look-alikes, which are actually credit vouchers that consumers can use to order merchandise from the enclosed catalog.

The backs of the vouchers read "This is a free giveaway promotion and not part of a contest or sweepstakes," which means the consumer is not even entered to win the $10 million sweepstakes mentioned in the cover letter.

Each voucher is for a different item in the catalog, and lists he amount owed by the consumer beyond the value of the voucher for the item. Prices range from $89.95 for a collection of cookware (pots) and a Cuisinart food processor to $279.95 for a desktop computer.

According to BBB files, the merchandise has also been found to be, at times, priced higher than the same items offered in retail stores of the same quality.

BBB records show that Allied Marketing Group Inc., the parent company of Sweepstakes Clearinghouse, has an "F" rating, the lowest issued.

Factors that lowered Allied Marketing Group, Inc.'s rating include 270 complaints filed against business; failure to respond to 53 complaints filed against business; three complaints filed against business that were not resolved; the length of time the business has taken to resolve complaints and the company failed to resolve underlying cause(s) of a pattern of complaints.

BBB also offers the following tips to avoid this and similar scams:

  • Find out what the shipping and handling charges are before ordering merchandise.
  • When considering layaway, make sure you understand the company's policies on refunds.
  • Shop around before you order an item. Make sure the quoted retail value of the merchandise is actually representative of retail prices elsewhere.
  • When considering the purchase of electronic products such as computers or camcorders, find out whether the product is new or reconditioned.
  • Start with Trust®. Check with the BBB before doing business.


The BBB of Acadiana works for a trustworthy marketplace by maintaining standards for truthful advertising, investigating and exposing fraud against consumers and businesses.

The BBB of Acadiana services the parishes of Acadia, Evangeline, Iberia, Lafayette, St. Martin, St. Landry and Vermilion.

Acadiana residents can now have BBB information in the palm of their hand with the official BBB Search app, a convenient, mobile BBB solution available for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. The app can be found at http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/bbb-search-find-local-businesses/id440014505?mt=8 .

Find BBB on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Better-Business-Bureau-of-Acadiana/128753980500452?fref=ts .

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