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Insurance check lost

This letter concerns a fender bender that occurred Jan. 9 when an elderly gentleman backed into my car. I was not at fault. This incident was reported to my insurance company, Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., the same day.

Our claim for repairs was $1,192.81. A check was subsequently issued to me and the dealership that made the repairs.

The check was never received by either party, and we have been informed by MetLife that the check was deposited at a bank in Jackson, Miss. It appears that fraud was involved.

After numerous phone calls to our insurance company and the bank in Jackson, we have not been able to convince MetLife to issue another check in the above amount.

Since we were in no way responsible for the loss of this check, and considerable time has elapsed since the accident, we believe that MetLife should issue another check to me. Donald Tock

Response: Theresa Jenkins, supervisor of the receipts and disbursements division of Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. Treasury Operations in Tampa, said that your case was receiving careful review. MetLife has been in contact with the negotiating bank for an update of the investigation. Jenkins said you would be receiving a refund of the check within 10 days. In the meantime, you have let us know that you did get the check.

No contest

I recently received two items in the mail that claimed I had won awards. I have received these letters twice before. I have always been told that if I won, I wouldn't have to pay to get the prize. Please advise. Robert Cole

Response: Pitch them.

Well actually, you could return the entry form that claims you have won a car, but keep the following "key" words that are on the form in mind: "Contingent upon selection of your Guarantee Of Delivery Form as the winner." Everybody receives an identical mailing, but at least it will only cost you the price of a postage stamp to find out if you're the lucky winner. You did not send us a copy of both sides of the form, but we bet if you read the back, you'll find buried in the fine print what your odds are of winning, and we'll bet further that your chances of winning are slim.

With regard to the other mailing, throw it out. Now.

A careful reading of all the verbiage on it tells us that you are guaranteed a cash check of up to $10,000. The minimum payout, which everyone who enters is guaranteed to win, is 10 cents. For this, however, you must send a one-time processing fee of $10. The odds for the grand prize of $10,000 are 1/750,000 (buried in the fine print) so the way we see it, chances are great you'll just end up being out $9.90 plus the cost of the stamp. Save the stamp.

But apart from all that, this sweepstakes is quite possibly illegal. It is a violation of Florida statute 849.094 (e) to require an entry fee, payment or proof of purchase as a condition of entering a sweepstakes. We wondered, however, whether this qualified as a sweepstakes given that everyone is guaranteed a check of at least 10 cents. We checked with the Department of State's Division of Licensing and the Economic Crime Division of the State Attorney General's office and could not get a 100 percent definitive answer.

However, J. Mark Kraus, assistant attorney general in the Economic Crime Division, said that as a general rule, beware of anything that requires you to put up cash for any reason whatsoever. He suggested you send the notification you received to the Economic Crime Division, Office of the Attorney General, Westwood Center, 2002 N Lois Ave., Suite 520, Tampa, FL 33607.

If you have a question for Action, call (800) 333-7505, ext. 8171.