NewsChannel5 Solutions Center: How to stop junk, sweepstakes mail

92-year-old Cleveland woman asks for help

CLEVELAND - How many times have you opened your mailbox and found it's nothing but junk? Often they are store advertisements, direct marketing flyers and letters that just take up space.              

The letters can promise you anything from low interest rates to flat-out cash, but 92-year-old Marie Lowther from northeast Ohio called us to tell us these letters just became too much.

"You're a big winner,” we said, tongue firmly planted in cheek.

“Oh yeah," she responded sarcastically. Tons of letters said she struck it rich. "I think people that's my age, maybe younger, they grab anything,” Lowther told us.

Marie did send money three times totaling $90 after official looking, enticing offers rolled in. The letters sounded good. "I'm going to put $500 dollars in your bank and...nothin',” explain Lowther.

The Cleveland Better Business Bureau showed us about a month's worth of mailings that Lowther received. "She had 'won' almost $900 million and a new BMW,” said Sue McConnell from the BBB.

McConnell gave a warning: "Some of them are companies that really aren't even sweepstakes. They're trying to sell you a directory of information about sweepstakes that you can enter,” she said.

If you give money once, McConnell said get ready to see even more. "Of course, once you respond to even one of these, your name and address get sold to many, many other companies and it just never ends," explained.

In fact, Lowther said she had to change her bank account information and her telephone number after the everyday calls never ended. "And he says ‘I have a beautiful car here for you,’“ said Lowther about one of the many conversations she had with unscrupulous people.

Well, now she's speaking out, hoping you don't become a target, too. "I hate to see people lose their money like that," Lowther said sternly.

Here's what you do to help with unsolicited mail: you can opt out of some offers by calling 888-5-opt-out or go to www.optoutprescreen.com . We also have a way to opt out of a different program called the Direct Marketing Association's Mail Preference Service - just check out www.dmachoice.org .

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