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You May Be A Winner...Not!

If you have a mailbox, you get them: sweepstakes notices designed to sell you something. Some people spend thousands of dollars, thinking it will help them win, reports CBS News Correspondent Diana Olick.

Back in March, we met 92-year-old Lillian Holliday, who, at that time had subscriptions to at least 50 magazines.

Â"The way itÂ's worded it says no purchase necessary,Â" said Holliday, Â"but you know and I know that if you donÂ't purchase you get nothing, and if you do purchase you might get something.Â"

And then thereÂ's Neil Hancock. He spent his life savings, more than $100,000, trying to strike it rich. His daughter, Pat Raines, says as fast as the sweepstakes mailings came in, the money went out.

Page after page after page of checks to the same companies. Â"They target the elderly because thatÂ's where the dollars are,Â" she says.

Hancock never hit the jackpot, but he bought so much cheap merchandise trying to win that it filled a spare closet and overflowed into a van parked outside his house.

The Senate Monday overwhelmingly passed legislation Monday designed to clear up some of the confusion surrounding sweepstake ads and entry forms.

The Senate bill, passed 93-0, would require sweepstakes sponsors to include Â"clear and conspicuousÂ" messages in their mailings telling consumers that no purchase is necessary to enter or win a sweepstakes.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, who sponsored the sweepstakes bill, spoke with CBS This Morning Co-Anchor Thalia Assuras.

Â"The promotional language in the mailings is so misleading that people understandably think theyÂ're about to win a big prize,Â" said Collins, Â"and thus they spend money in the mistaken belief that it will help them win.Â"

She said her provision Â"would give the Postal Service tough new authority to impose penalties on companies up to $2 million if they violate the consumer standards that are in the bill.Â"

Her advice to people who receive sweepstakes mailings?

Â"They should understand if they buy merchandise through the mail through a sweepstakes promotion, it doesnÂ't in any way increase their chances of winning millions of dollars,Â" says Collins. Â"If they keep that in mind, theyÂ're apt to act prudently when mailboxes are flooded with solicitations.Â"

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