Oftentimes, scams utilize people's trust in well-known brands to obtain personal information or money through phone or online communication. A recent scam is utilizing the Publishers Clearing House name to defraud seniors.
According to the PCH website, major prize winners are notified in person and lesser prize winners are notified via an overnight express carrier like FedEx, UPS or USPS Express Mail, and occasionally by email. PCH also notes there is no processing fee, tax or special handling charge required to win and prizes are delivered free of charge.
PCH offers these warning signs to keep in mind and guidelines to follow when trying to identify which offers are real and which are scams:
Beware of Fake Check Scams. If you receive a check claiming to be for a legitimate sweepstakes prize and are asked to cash it and wire or send a portion back — STOP — you are the victim of a fraudulent contact. The check is not real! Consumers should always remember that at Publishers Clearing House no payment or fee is ever necessary to enter or claim a prize.
Be Suspicious of Callers Claiming You’ve Won – But Ask You to Send Money. If you receive a telephone call from someone claiming you have won a sweepstakes prize and are asked to send money — STOP — you have not heard from a legitimate sweepstakes company. At Publishers Clearing House we do not notify our contest winners by phone.
Be Wary of E-mails Claiming You’ve Won – and Asking You to Send Money. If you receive an e-mail notifying you that you have won a major sweepstakes prize, but are asked to provide personal financial information, or send money — STOP -– you have most likely been contacted by a fraudulent sweepstakes scam operator. At Publishers Clearing House we do not notify major prize winners by e-mail.
Never Give Your Credit Card Number to Collect a Prize. If you are asked to provide your credit card number or provide your financial bank account information in order to claim a sweepstakes prize — STOP. Fraudulent scam artists often request this information and then go on a spending spree with your credit card; or wipe out your bank account.
Do Not Send Money to Claim a Sweepstakes Prize. If you are asked to send money to pre-pay taxes, pay a legal fee, pay a border fee, load funds on a Green Dot Card or pay any kind of fee to claim a sweepstakes prize — STOP — you have not heard from a legitimate sweepstakes company. Whether contacted by mail, phone or e-mail, remember: no legitimate sweepstakes company will ever ask you to pay or send money to claim a prize. It’s prohibited and unlawful!
Always Play Safely. Be sure to read the Sweepstakes Facts, as well as Official Rules. They are there to provide you with all the information you need to play safely! Don’t fall for "lookalike" mailings that try to mislead consumers by imitating legitimate sweepstakes.
If an Offer Sounds Too Good to be True, Think Twice — It Usually is! Remember, No Purchase is Necessary to enter a legitimate sweepstakes and the winning is always free!
Know the Company Conducting the Sweepstakes. PCH provides customers with assistance and can answer any sweepstakes questions you may have. If you wish to report a scam contact to us, you may do so by clicking here to fill out and complete a scam incident report.
File a Complaint. If you believe you have been contacted by a scammer, we recommend that you contact your local consumer protection officials and file a complaint with the National Fraud Information Center at www.fraud.org. Your complaint may help to prevent others from being victimized and will be useful to law enforcement in stopping the scams.
According to USA.gov, the following tips can also be used to guard against becoming a victim of a phone or online scam:
Hang up on suspicious calls.
Be wary of callers claiming you’ve won a prize or vacation package.
Ask yourself if you have entered a contest. If you do not recall doing so, the prize notice is likely a fake.
Don’t give in to pressure to take immediate action.
Don’t reply to or click any links in a spam message.
Don’t believe someone just because they say they are from the government or an official-sounding agency.
It is also advantageous to not give any type of identifying information over the phone and to conduct a search of the agency’s phone number and call directly to confirm whether the agency is in fact requesting the information being asked.