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Avoid Legal Issues with Mom Blog Giveaways and Contests

It takes only a few problems to attract the attention of an Attorney General, which could change the ability of all mom bloggers to run promotions on their blogs. To ensure giveaways and contests are legal, all bloggers should be doing the following things that you may find quite surprising:

  • You must post promotion rules and regulations, and link to them in every sweepstakes or contest announcement, every time. A good writing resource at Squidoo.com can help you craft a rules document to post on your site. To be 100-percent safe, you can buy a sample sweepstakes rules form from a site like LeapLaw or work with a lawyer to draft one for you.

  • You must state the following information in every promotion. It’s safest to spell out these bullet points in each promotion you offer, rather than putting them into your rules and regulations. Your entrants need this information to participate.

    • Inform your readers that “No purchase is necessary.”

    • State that the “Odds of winning are based on number of entries.”

    • Give a start date and an end date when you will stop receiving entries.

    • State how many entries are allowed per person.

    • Explain how participants need to enter the promotion (usually by leaving a comment on your blog).

    • State the dollar value of the prize being awarded.

    • State who is eligible to enter (usually U.S. residents 18 and older — adapt accordingly for your locality).

  • You should have a clear policy on how to handle unawarded prizes. You should state how you will notify winners, how long they have to respond to the notification (30 days is standard), and how you will award the prize to a different winner.

    While it is not illegal to keep a prize, lawmakers really want prizes awarded. So you should have a standard way of handling this situation and work hard to get the prize into a winner’s hands.

These things are a little quirky because they don’t always apply to blogger promotions or are very localized laws. But you should be aware of them to ensure you don’t unknowingly break these laws:

  • If your promotion is giving away a prize or prizes worth more than a combined total of $5,000, then you must post a winner’s list, be bonded, and be registered with the states of New York and Florida. This applies if any of your entrants live in either state. You can avoid this by ensuring the combined prize value of all your prizes is less than $5,000.

  • You must file a 1099 form with the Internal Revenue Service if your prize to any one person is worth more than $600.

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