WASHINGTON (AP) _ President Clinton signed into law Monday a measure designed to protect people, especially the elderly, from sweepstakes scams, saying ``too often, mailing and sweepstakes practices seem designed to mislead.''

The Deceptive Mail Prevention and Enforcement Act bars sponsors from implying that buying products can increase entrants' chances of winning big prizes.

``This legislation will protect Americans against those who use sweepstakes and mailings to deceive and exploit the unwary,'' Clinton said. ``It will establish standards for sweepstakes mailings, skill contests and facsimile checks.''

The bill was among dozens that cleared Congress on the last day of the 1999 session.

The new law requires sweepstakes sponsors to display messages prominently that no purchase is required. It also bars sweepstakes mailings from telling recipients that they have won a prize unless they actually have won something.

In addition, it imposes million-dollar fines on sweepstakes companies that violate the law and gives the U.S. Postal Service new authority to stop mailings quickly.