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Deceptive Mail Prevention and Enforcement Act
(Ley Federal sobre Envíos Postales Engañosos)

Applicable to U.S. States, Puerto Rico, and other territories)

SUMMARY (English Version)

Date: December 13, 1999

Effective Date: December 22, 1999 in part, and April 12, 2000 as to other sections.

Formal Citation:  39 U.S.C.A. 3001, et seq

Purpose and Application:

Approved as an amendment to 39 U.S.C.A. 3001 et seq., this Act regulates the mailing of Sweepstakes and related materials through the U.S. Postal Services. It also regulates the mailing of facsimile and security like documents. The act imposes restrictions and requisites for the mailing of sweepstakes materials and  regulates the content of the sweepstakes rules and other promotional materials. This Act must be considered when drafting the rules for a sweepstakes that will be targeted through the U.S. Post Office.

Basic Principles:

  • Regulates the mailing of sweepstakes and contest through the U.S. Postal Service.
  • Regulates the mailing of check facsimiles and documents that simulate governmental documents.
  • Requires the promoter of a sweepstakes to establish a REMOVAL procedure to targeted consumers.
  • Establishes monetary penalties up to Two Million Dollars.
  • Provides for a nationwide injunction remedy.

Activities Regulated:

  • Mailing of Sweepstakes and contest through the U.S. Postal Services, including the inclusion of these in the mailing of products and samples.
  • Mailing of facsimile of governmental documents and checks.
  • The advertisement and promotional material included with the mailing of products and samples may be regulated by this Act.


  • Violators of this regulation may be fined with up to Two Million  Dollars ($2,000,000.00)  per project. Penalty increases in proportion to number of days incurring in violations and  pieces mailed.
  • If a cease and desist Order is violated, an additional penalty of One Million Dollars may be imposed.
  • This Act does not preempt any remedy under state law.

Activities not regulated under the Act:

The following is a sample list of activities excepted or not regulated under this Act:  

  • Advertisement or promotions in other communication media not including the U.S. Postal Service.
  • Sweepstakes and contests advertised concurrently on newspapers and publications, if one the following conditions are met:
    • The promotion is not address to any particular person, or
    • The promotion does not give the opportunity to order a product or service.

New requisites for Mailed Sweepstakes under the Act:

The following is a sample list of the most significant requisites mentioned under this act:

  • The statement "No Purchase Necessary" must appear three times: in the request, the entry form and the official rules.
  • A statement indicating that purchasing will not increase the chance of winning must appear prominently  three times:  in the request, the entry form and the official rules.
  • Include a prominent statement with the promoter's name and main address.
  • Publication of complete official rules and participation mechanism.

The Official Sweepstakes Rules must include the following:

The following is a sample list of the most significant requirement for the rules content  under this act:

  • The approximate chance of winning.
  • Number, nature and estimated retail value of prizes.
  • If the prize will be paid in installments, the payment schedule.

Other conditions are required for the rules of contests games.

Prohibited Practice:

  • State that the failure of purchasing will have the effect of removing recipient from future mailings.
  • Require the purchase or payment of a product previously ordered as a condition for entry.
  • Any other statement contrary to the requirements of this Act.

NOTE: The above summary is for information purposes only. The Act should be studied carefully by marketers and promoters as inasmuch as it contains significant details related to the mailing activity and penalties are significant.

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www.cabrera-rico.com | Updated Feb 29, 2016