Sunday, November 29, 2015         

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Isles share in sweepstakes settlement

By Craig Gima


Hawaii will get $40,000 as its share of a $3.5 million settlement with Publishers Clearing House over allegations that the company misled consumers about the chances of winning its sweepstakes.

Thirty-two states and the District of Columbia participated in the lawsuit against Publishers Clearing House, a Port Washington, N.Y., company that sells magazine subscriptions and offers a heavily publicized $10 million sweepstakes given away by a "Prize Patrol."

The company admitted no wrongdoing in the settlement, but agreed to increase its efforts to inform consumers that making a purchase does not increase their chances of winning.

Oregon Attorney General John Kroger, who led the investigation, said the settlement filed Thursday also requires that the company hire an ombudsman to review mailings to ensure compliance with the settlement.

"The company misled consumers to believe that if they bought more subscriptions, they had a greater chance of winning," said Stephen H. Levins, executive director of the Hawaii Office of Consumer Protection. "That's just inaccurate."

Levins said the state's share of the settlement will support consumer protection efforts in Hawaii.

Publishers Clearing House had agreed to settlements in separate state actions in 2000 and 2001.

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

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