Here are things you can do to protect yourself and your family from spending money on sweepstakes:

• If you get sweepstakes offers in the mail, read all the details in the promotional material very carefully.

• Don’t assume that you have already won something even if the marketing makes it seem like you have.

• The sweepstakes offer may also include offers for merchandise, which you may not need to buy in order to have a chance to win.

• Some vulnerable consumers may be buying merchandise in the hopes of winning — look out for your family and friends. Some warning signs can include unusual packages of inexpensive items the buyer probably does not want or cannot use and may have never opened.