The FTC just released their top complaints from 2011. Third on the list was prizes, sweepstakes, lotteries. I figured it was a good reminder for all of us and our institutions that it's not always our traditional regulators that we need to be worried about. The FTC gets these complaints and can act on them, and the FTC and CFPB just announced that they'll be sharing complaints. And even beyond that, any individual case can be taken up in a lawsuit.

It's likely that a lot of the FTC complaints on prizes, sweepstakes, and lotteries didn't involve banks to begin with, but with so many complaints in play that it hit #3 on the list, the problems are probably pretty widespread. So the next time we're planning a simple branch drawing or trying to help out with a local raffle for a good cause, we should make sure to follow the rules. It can be too easy to cut corners thinking no one will ever notice...until somebody does, and then it can get ugly.

For the record, a lot of the top complaints on FTC's list were related to banking in some way. Here's the top 10 list:

1. Identity theft
2. Debt collection complaints
3. Prizes, sweepstakes and lotteries
4. Shop-at-home and catalog sales
5. Banks and lenders
6. Internet services
7. Auto-related complaints
8. Impostor scams
9. Telephone and mobile services
10. Advance-fee loans and credit protection/repair