Attorney General Hardy Myers, along with attorneys general from 18 other states, today announced that an agreement has been reached with Newport Creative Communications over misleading sweepstakes claims the company made in charity solicitations.
"Sweepstakes for charity have always been problematic," Myers said. "Any company involved in such an enterprise must avoid deceptive tactics. This agreement will ensure that Newport's future solicitations follow the rules."
Newport, a Massachusetts fundraising consultant for charities, developed sweepstakes promotions that the states allege were often illegal and misleading, guaranteeing prizes that, in most cases, were never awarded. Examples of the language used include the following: "YOU ARE OUR $6,000 WINNER - It's as simple as that," and "Cash payment to be confirmed for Mr. John Q. Sample upon reply by deadline." Newport disputes those claims, and admits no wrongdoing in the agreement.
Under the terms of the agreement, Newport's direct-mail solicitations will no longer claim that the recipient has already won a prize or will be guaranteed a prize by responding to the charitable solicitation and will cease creating mailings unless there is a prize ultimately awarded by the charity. The company also will be required to include inserts in its mailings explicitly stating that the consumer has not already won a prize, and that donating to the charity does not improve the odds of winning.
In addition to changing charity pitches, Newport will pay $400,000 to the states, of which Oregon will receive $21,000. Other states involved in the agreement are Arkansas, California, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.
Victoria Cox, (971) 673-1880