Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller says the Publishers Clearing House has agreed to a tougher agreement to keep from taking advantage of people who think they’re going to win millions of dollars. Miller says Iowa was part of a multistate agreement with P-C-H in 2001, but reviews still showed problems in their operations.
Miller says the company was taking some people out that were confused or spending too much of their income, but they were letting others in that shouldn’t have. Miller says you don’t have to buy anything to have a chance to win the Publishers Clearinghouse Sweepstakes, but the mass mailings sent out by the company often made it seem that way.
Miller says elderly Iowans were most often mislead. He says in 2005, 850 Iowans sent in more than $1,000 to P-C-H and 50 sent in more than three-thousand dollars. Miller says in the group of 50, the average age was 76. The Attorney General says the changes will put stricter standards on the company for monitoring people who may have a problem.
Miller says in the future is anyone spends more than 500 dollars in a quarter, then they are surveyed by Publishers Clearinghouse. Miller says the survey will ask questions to determine if the person understands that they don’t have to make a purchase to win the sweepstakes. Miller says if P-C-H determines the person understands the rules, the A-G’s office will do their own survey to follow up. He says they will also be sure that people aren’t dropped from the mailing list and then added again.
Miller says the new agreement strengthens the provisions so that once a person is taken off the list, they can’t get back on. He says the company will have to pay full refunds to people who get put back on the list and penalties of 25-hundred dollars for each person that is put back on. Teri Golightly of Des Moines saw two members of her family pulled into spending hundreds of dollars trying to win millions from Publishers Clearinghouse. The first was her grandfather.
Golightly says her mother discovered her grandfather was buying more books and periodicals because he believed it would improve his chances of winning millions. Later when her stepfather was battling terminal cancer, they found he had been spending money on Publishers Clearinghouse items with the hopes of winning the sweepstakes.
Golightly says the tougher restrictions are needed. She says," A leopard doesn’t change his spots. While some of the things have been put in place to try and safeguard people, I feel that these companies will always try and find a way to go around the other way, to try and part people from their money."
Golightly says her father-in-law still believed right up until his death that he was still going to win the sweepstakes. Miller says P-C-H has agreed to pay the state $50,000 to cover the costs of their investigation that led to the new agreement.