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How to Recognize Publishers Clearing House Scams

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Question: How to Recognize Publishers Clearing House Scams
I receive many emails from readers wanting to know if they have really won from Publishers Clearing House, and how to tell the difference between a PCH win and a scam. Some examples include:
  • "I just received a notice in the mail supposedly from Publishers Clearing House. They are saying that I have won a sweepstakes. Is this real?"
  • "I received a win letter along with a check from Publishers Clearing House to cover expenses. Did I really win?"
  • "Publishers Clearing House keeps calling and saying I've won $100,000,000. They say I have to pay 1% in taxes before they release the prize. What should I do?"
Answer:

How to Recognize and Avoid PCH Scams:

Sweepstakes scammers work very hard to convince you that you've really won a prize. One of their tactics is to disguise themselves as legitimate companies that really do offer huge prizes. While Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes are legit, there are many scams that use the PCH name. So how can you tell when you really win Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes and when you're being scammed? Here are tips to help you spot PCH scams:

  1. PCH Doesn't Email or Call Its Big Winners
    If you receive an email, a telephone call, or a bulk mail letter saying that you've won a big prize from PCH, it's a scam. According to the PCH website: "All PCH prizes of $500 or greater are awarded by either certified or express letter or in person by our famous Prize Patrol at our option." You will never, ever receive a bulk mailing or a phone call to let you know you're a big winner. These contact methods are used by scammers, however.

  2. You Never Have to Pay to Receive a Legitimate PCH Win
    Scammers extort money from you in exchange for a promise of a prize that never materializes. The truth is you never, ever have to pay to receive a sweepstakes prize, from Publishers Clearing House or any other company.

  3. A Check Doesn't Mean You're Not Paying
    Scammers sometimes make it appear that you're not "really" paying for your prize. After all, they're providing the funds, right? Wrong. Those checks aren't legitimate, and you'll be left holding the bill. Read about check scams for more information.

  4. PCH Won't Contact You through Facebook If You Win
    Facebook is the latest tool that scammers are using to trick people into sending them money. Scammers have created fake Facebook pages that appear to be controlled by Publishers Clearing House and have used them to fool people into thinking they've won. For tips on how to avoid PCH scams on Facebook, see Prize Patrol member Danielle Lam's post, Tips to Spot a Publishers Clearing House Scam.

  5. All the Warning Signs of Scams Apply to PCH Wins, Too
    There are some steps that you can take to easily spot sweepstakes scams, and all of those guidelines apply to Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes, as well as to sweepstakes from other companies. See the Warning Signs of Sweepstakes Scams for more information.

  6. You Can Always Verify Your Wins with Publishers Clearing House
    If you have checked the steps above and you're still not sure whether your win notice is legitimate, you can contact PCH directly to ask them to verify your prize. Do NOT use the telephone numbers or email addresses included in your win notice; scammers are talented at disguising themselves as a real company. For more information, see How to Contact Publishers Clearing House.

  7. Watch Out for PCH Scams on Facebook
    Another way that swindlers misuse the Publishers Clearing House name is to create fake Facebook accounts in the PCH name, then use those accounts to notify their victims of fake wins. Learn how to recognize and avoid PCH scams on Facebook to keep yourself safe from these scams.

  8. Get More Tips Directly from PCH.com
    Publishers Clearing House works hard to fight scams, both by working with law enforcement officials and through public education. For more tips on avoid Publishers Clearing House scams, visit the Contest Integrity section of the Publishers Clearing House website, PCH.com.

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