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Winning a large sweepstakes prize can be a dream come true. All too often, however, notification that you won a sweepstakes or have been selected to receive a special prize is a scam.

Protect yourself by watching out for warning signs:

  • Don’t pay to enter a sweepstakes or to collect a prize. Legitimate sweepstakes are free and by chance. It is illegal to require you to buy something or pay to enter or increase your odds of winning.
  • If you receive a notice stating that you’ve won a prize, be mindful of the email address. If the email arrived from a free account like Hotmail or Gmail (or by “bulk” United States mail), odds are it is a scam.
  • Raffles where you must pay money to enter are legal only if they are conducted by a charitable organization registered with the Attorney General’s Office to conduct raffles, and only if at least 90% of the gross receipts from the raffle are used for charitable purposes. To find out whether a raffle is registered, you can search the Attorney General’s Registry of Charitable Trusts. To learn more about raffles, please go to our Raffles information page.

Note that when you sign up for a sweepstakes, contest or drawing, you may start to receive more promotional mail, telemarketing calls or spam email, because your information may be sold to advertisers and others.

If you were solicited for an illegal sweepstakes or raffle and would like to file a complaint, please go to our online complaint form.

State & Federal Laws

You can search California laws on the Internet

California Law

View a checklist of significant California consumer laws

CA Dept of Consumer Affairs

Search U.S. laws on the Internet at U.S. Code

U.S. Code

Megan's Law

California Registered Sex Offender Database

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