Millions of Mississippians receive ambiguous mail or phone calls on a regular basis. These messages often inform recipients that they are winners of a prize, are eligible for free products or other types of gimmick-oriented content. There are, of course, sweepstakes and other promotional material that are legitimate. Yet when a consumer cannot decipher between valid advertising and deception, the legal processes that may ensue can become complex and overwhelming.
While there are plenty of honest companies that offer sweepstakes and promotions to bolster their network, there are others that are simply "to good to be true." The Better Business Bureau admit that some of these deals might seem hard to resist, but warn of potential company deception. As of 2015, the most common forms of scams in Mississippi were fake debt collectors, AT&T upgrades and prize and sweepstakes scams. Most of these scams promise luxurious beach vacations or brand new cars, and consumers must usually pay a fee to claim their prize. The BBB urges Mississippians experiencing fee-demanding calls to hang up immediately.
Regardless of the type of business, Findlaw states that Mississippi laws protect consumers from deceptive trade practices. This approach to selling a product or service can come with a number of legal repercussions, as Mississippi enforces the Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act. This legal enforcement, which includes the penalties of misdemeanors and hefty fines of up to $10,000, can depend on the type of violation. There are legal categories that differentiate between each penalty, but most experts agree that if a company implores a consumer to pay for a prize, the deal is likely not a prize, at all.