New Hampshire Department of Justice
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Consumer Sourcebook

Preface | User's Guide | Table of Contents | Print Sourcebook Adobe Acrobat Reader Symbol

Extra Note: Unordered Merchandise

You may occasionally receive free items through the mail that you have not ordered. Federal and state laws protect consumers from being billed for unordered merchandise.

Federal law requires that unordered merchandise be clearly marked by the sender as a "free sample." Charities are allowed to send greetings cards and such and ask for a donation from the consumer. Any merchandise received through the mail in this manner can be considered a gift and the consumer neither has to pay for it nor make a donation.

New Hampshire law, RSA 339:2-a, allows anyone who receives unsolicited merchandise to either refuse delivery or accept the merchandise as a gift without any legal obligation to the sender.

Some frauds are carried out when a company purposely sends unordered merchandise to unsuspecting consumers (or businesses) then sends a bill or invoice demanding payment. This could be mail fraud which is a federal crime. For more information on this type of fraud, see Extra Note: Office Supply Scams.

Be suspicious of:

  • "free gifts" requiring a "tax payment" or "registration fee"; and
  • mailings that look like they are from official government agencies when they are not.

If you find yourself being harassed to pay for unordered merchandise, contact the US Postal Service's Postal Crime Hotline (1-888-877-7644) or the NH Consumer Protection and Antitrust Bureau, 33 Capital Street, Concord, NH 03301-6397 or call the Consumer Protection Hotline at 603-271-3641 or 1-888-468-4454.

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New Hampshire Department of Justice | 33 Capitol Street | Concord, NH | 03301
Telephone: 603-271-3658