THE CONCERN: You’ve won a new car! Millions of dollars! Cash for life! The crazy thing is you don’t even recall entering the contest. Con artists pose as Publishers Clearing House and play on our desire to “get rich quick.”
HOW THE SCAM WORKS: You receive a phone call, text message, email, social media message or even a letter in the mail claiming you have won millions of dollars or another high value prize through Publishers Clearing House. The correspondence seems real. It is complete with official seals and contact information for the contest organizer. It may list affiliation with legitimate organizations, such as Better Business Bureau, the IRS, the FDIC, and major retailers.
The catch? You are responsible for paying shipping and handling, insurance, taxes, and other fees before you can claim your prize. Scammers may pressure you to pay quickly, claiming that if the fees are not paid in their very specific way and right now, you will forfeit your prize money.
A few thousand dollars may not sound like much compared to the millions you have supposedly won. However, con artists will just keep asking you, the “lucky winner,” to pay again and again. But it will never be enough. The reality is, your prize money never existed.
The real Publishers Clearing House is a BBB Accredited Business with a good rating, and they never ask people to pay upfront fees for anything. The company is frequently mimicked by scammers because of their reputation for real prizes.
TIPS TO AVOID THIS SCAM: Reach out to Publishers Clearing House. If you are contacted by a scammer impersonating PCH, report it by calling 800-392-4190. Also, PCH provides a tollfree customer service number (800-645-9242), which consumers can call at any time to check on suspicious behavior.
Be wary of unsolicited correspondence. If you receive a notice out of the blue and can’t recall entering the contest, it’s likely a scam. Look for typos and misspellings. They are tell-tale signs of a scam. Never pay fees to claim a prize. You should never have to pay any fees upfront before receiving winnings. Not even taxes.
Keep track of any contests you enter. You can’t win a contest you did not enter. If you often enter contests and sweepstakes, keep track of them. This will help you spot a fake contest.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: Read more tips for spotting a Publisher Clearing House scam on their website’s fraud information center at info.pch.com/category/fraud.
To learn more about sweepstakes scams and how they work, see BBB’s study on these scams at bit.ly/lotterystudy.
If you have been the victim of a scam, please report it to BBB.org/ScamTracker. By sharing your experience, you can help others avoid falling victim to similar scams.
Better Business Bureau serving Canton Region and Greater West Virginia offers tips and advice for consumers to avoid fraudulent practices. Visit bbb.org/canton or call 330-454-9401 to look up a business, file a complaint, write a customer review, read tips and more.