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READER'S DIGEST CAUTIONS CONSUMERS ABOUT SCAMS

 PLEASANTVILLE, N.Y., Sept. 30 /PRNewswire/ -- The Reader's Digest Association, Inc., is cautioning consumers about con artists seeking money from people by claiming they have won sweepstakes prizes.
 Reader's Digest, which pioneered the use of sweepstakes in the United States in 1962, is cooperating with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in alerting consumers nationwide about scams operating in several states. The FTC has distributed nationwide a brochure telling consumers how to protect themselves.
 Reader's Digest reported that over the last few months, fraudulent telephone calls were made to consumers in California, Arizona, Oregon, Washington, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan and Tennessee.
 In each case, swindlers tried to bilk victims out of money by claiming they had won the Reader's Digest Sweepstakes, then said winnings could not be released until cash or certified checks were sent by overnight courier or wire services to cover taxes, shipping and handling charges. Scam artists sought $500 to $10,000.
 "Legitimate sweepstakes do not require you to pay to collect your prize," Readers' Digest Sweepstakes Director Ronald Leslie said.
 Reader's Digest offers these fraud-prevention tips:
 -- Be wary of phone calls about sweepstakes prizes. Most reputable companies notify winners by mail.
 -- Be suspicious if people ask you for money to claim a prize. Swindlers tell victims the money is for "taxes" or shipping and handling charges.
 -- Never give out your credit card number to collect a prize or enter a sweepstakes. Con artists may request this information as proof of eligibility.
 -- Read the rules of any sweepstakes you enter. Be aware of closing dates, prize amounts and conditions under which you would be eligible for a prize.
 -- Contact the company conducting the sweepstakes. Reader's Digest provides customers with information about prizes, entry deadlines and odds of winning. A winners' list is available upon request. To reach Reader's Digest Customer Service, call toll-free: 1-800-234-9000.
 -- If you think someone is trying to swindle you or you've been a fraud victim, report it immediately to your state attorney general, Better Business Bureau, local consumer protection agency, or the FTC's National Fraud Information Center (1-800-876-7060).
 The Reader's Digest Association, Inc., this year awarded $11.25 million in prizes to sweepstakes entrants. The grand prize was $5 million -- with 53,714 other prizes totaling $6.25 million. Since 1962, Reader's Digest has awarded more than $101 million to nearly 2 million customers. Winners are selected by an independent judging agency, Donnelley Marketing, Inc.
 -0- 9/30/93
 /CONTACT: Lesta Cordil of Reader's Digest, 914-241-5161, or home, 914-242-5017/


CO: Reader's Digest Association, Inc. ST: New York IN: PUB SU:

TW -- NY004 -- 7094 09/30/93 08:01 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Sep 30, 1993
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