Welcome to the Fraud Protection section of our website where we hope you will take the time to read these valuable consumer education and protection messages. This information is intended to help you, the consumer, stay safe and protected from fraudulent scammers.
If you are a member of the Media gathering information for a story you are covering on fraud protection, please be sure to see our Media Notice posted at the bottom of the page.
At PCH the Winning is Always Free!
At PCH the winning is always free and you NEVER have to pay to claim a prize award. Recognizing the difference between legitimate sweepstakes and other types of offers that may not be legitimate will help you protect yourself and your family.
If someone contacts you claiming to be from PCH, and tells you that you’ve won a prize award – then asks you to send a payment or money card in order to claim the prize – STOP! You have not heard from the real PCH.
Publishers Clearing House Scam Alert Update: Beware of Fraudsters Pretending to be real PCH Employees!
At Publishers Clearing House we care about consumers and want to be sure you stay protected from SCAMMERS fraudulently pretending to be associated with our well-recognized PCH name! As a company that has been in business for over 50 years, PCH is an iconic brand, recognized and welcomed into households all across the country. And, if you are familiar with the PCH name, you can be sure the scammers know us, as well.
Recently we’ve been hearing reports that scammers are accessing and using the names of our real PCH employees in their criminal attempts to deceive you. Names you’ve come to know and recognize such as Dave Sayer, Todd Sloane and Danielle Lam – all real members of our famous PCH Prize Patrol. Even the name of Deborah Holland, our Executive Vice President whose name appears in PCH promotional mailers, has been hijacked and illegally used by scammers.
If you are ever contacted by someone claiming to represent PCH, or claiming to be one of our employees, and asked to send or wire money (for any reason whatsoever, including taxes); or send a pre-paid gift card or Green Dot Moneypak card in order to claim a sweepstakes prize – DON’T! It’s a SCAM. If you are sent a check, told it’s a partial prize award, and asked to cash it and send a portion back to claim the full prize award, DON’T. The check is fake, but the SCAM is real!
Publishers Clearing House does not operate this way and would NEVER ask for money to claim a prize award. PCH employees would never contact you personally or in advance to notify you of a prize award. Our prize awards are presented just the way you see in our popular TV commercials, ‘live and in person’ by our Prize Patrol, with balloons, bouquet of roses and check in hand - - and with no advance notification!
Scammers use any means available – mail; telephone; internet; email and even Facebook, Twitter and Instagram! Whatever the method of contact, their main goal is to deceive you into believing you’ve won a prize award and need to send a pre-payment to claim that prize. Don’t fall for it!
PCH continues to actively partner with The Federal Trade Commission, the US Postal Service, police and law enforcement officials around the country by sharing information we collect to help these regulatory agencies go after the bad guys. Unfortunately, it is a fact of life that certain scammers continue to operate. They will do their best to try and deceive you into thinking you are dealing with the real PCH. Don’t fall for it! - - - Remember, stay protected and don’t fall victim – if the prize isn’t free – and you’re expected to send some type of payment to claim it, you’re being SCAMMED!
Beware of Fake Checks and Bogus Offers
Publishers Clearing House wants to warn you about scam artists sending out real looking checks in an attempt to get you to send money! Here’s how the “Fake Check” scam works. Scam artists send you an official looking letter claiming to be from a legitimate sweepstakes. The letter may illegally use the name of a well known company like Publishers Clearing House or a sound alike name in an attempt to build trust. (These offers are not affiliated in any way with Publishers Clearing House!) The letter encloses a real looking check that may appear legitimate. Even your bank may be fooled.
What’s the catch? Even though the check is bogus, if you deposit the check the money may be available to you for a short time. Under federal law, banks make the funds you deposit available quickly – usually within one to five days, depending on the type of check. But just because you can withdraw the money doesn’t mean the check is good. It can take weeks for the forgery to be discovered and the check to bounce. And that’s what the scam artists are counting on. They hope that if you believe the check is real you’ll be willing to send them money back.
The scammers may tell you that you were given “an advance on a sweepstakes prize” and that some “fee, tax or additional payment” is necessary. You may be told you are being paid the “first installment” on millions and that “you will receive more after wiring a portion back.” Whatever the set-up in the scam offers, the results are the same. If you send money back you’ll be out twice. YOU are responsible for checks or monies deposited into your account. When a check or money order bounces YOU will owe the bank the money you withdrew and the scammer will have the additional money sent in his/her pocket!
A legitimate sweepstakes will NEVER ask you to send money to enter a sweepstakes, claim a prize, or to pay a fee, tax or deposit. Consumers should always remember that at Publishers Clearing House no payment is ever necessary to claim a prize. If someone contacts you about winning a prize and requests that you send money back in return for any reason – STOP – you have not heard from the real Publishers Clearing House. There is no legitimate reason for someone who is giving you money to ask you to wire money back. This is not the way legitimate sweepstakes work! If you believe you are the victim of a “Fake Check Scam” using the Publishers Clearing House name or logo, please report it to us immediately by clicking here to fill out and complete a scam incident report. Consumers are also advised to contact their local consumer protection officials or the National Fraud Center at www.fraud.org. No matter whether mail, phone or email, remember NO PURCHASE NECESSARY…The only sweepstakes rule you need to know!
Beware of Fraudulent Emails
Publishers Clearing House (PCH) does NOT send e-mails notifying consumers that they have won a major prize. If you win a major prize in our sweepstakes our PCH Prize Patrol will contact you in person. For smaller prizes (usually less than $1,000.00), winners are notified by overnight delivery services (FedEx, UPS), certified mail, or email in the case on online giveaways.
- PCH does NOT send e-mails requesting personal banking or financial information in connection with a prize. If you receive an e-mail seeking your bank account, checking account, social security number or other financial information, BEWARE.
- If you are contacted about winning a prize but are required to buy something, pay a fee, tax or processing cost, STOP. You have not heard from a legitimate sweepstakes and it’s certainly not from the “real” Publishers Clearing House!
If you believe you are the victim of a “Fake Check Scam” using the Publishers Clearing House name or logo, please report it to us immediately by clicking here to fill out and complete a scam incident report. Consumers are also advised to contact their local consumer protection officials or the National Fraud Center at www.fraud.org. No matter whether mail, phone or email, remember NO PURCHASE NECESSARY… The only sweepstake rule you need to know!
Beware of Scam Calls
Publishers Clearing House (PCH) does NOT make or authorize outgoing calls to consumers to sell merchandise or magazines, or to solicit contest entries. Our major winners are notified by mail or in person (at our option) and we never phone ahead to disclose that someone has won a major prize. If you receive a phone call from someone claiming to be from Publishers Clearing House and are asked to send money, pay a fee or pre-pay taxes to enter, collect or claim a sweepstakes prize - STOP - you have not heard from the “real” Publishers Clearing House. The call you received was most likely from a fraudulent sweepstakes scam operation. At Publishers Clearing House the winning is always free.
If you believe you are the victim of a “Fake Check Scam” using the Publishers Clearing House name or logo, please report it to us immediately by clicking here to fill out and complete a scam incident report. Consumers are also advised to contact their local consumer protection officials or the National Fraud Center at www.fraud.org. No matter whether mail, phone or email, remember NO PURCHASE NECESSARY … The only sweepstake rule you need to know!
Our friends at AT&T want to warn you of an 809 Area Code Scam. Please click on this link for more information and stay protected.
PCH is Fighting Back Against Fraud!
Since its inception, the hallmark of the Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes has been that no purchase, fee, cost or payment is ever necessary to enter or win. This message appears repeatedly in our mailings in many forms, is present in our web site disclosures, and is featured for all those who call our toll-free customer service line.
Publishers Clearing House has received reports from consumers and consumer protection authorities of illegal and fraudulent offers by scam artists using the phone, mail or internet seeking some form of payment from consumers to collect a non-existent prize. In many cases the Publishers Clearing House name or sound-alike name is illegally used. Using a variety of bogus representations including “prepayment of taxes,” “refundable deposits,” and “shipping & handling,” scam artists perpetrating these frauds seek to have consumers forward money.
As the industry leader in legitimate sweepstakes promotions and offers, Publishers Clearing House is greatly concerned about the reports of these scams. In response, the PCH Consumer Affairs Division has instituted a comprehensive program to help combat these scams. Our program has three components: Consumer Education, Information Sharing and Private/Public Partnerships.
On the belief that educated consumers are in the best position to stop fraud, Publishers Clearing House has undertaken a number of consumer education programs that are designed to reach those who might be targeted by fraudulent sweepstakes scam artists. These efforts include:
Toll-Free Consumer Education: Every year hundreds of thousands of consumers call the Publishers Clearing House toll-free customer service line. These calls provide an invaluable opportunity to provide an educational message to consumers. Each call received by Publishers Clearing House is answered by a recorded greeting that includes a reminder that the “winning is always free.” For those who would like to hear more, a prompt is provided that offers callers additional educational information and warnings regarding bogus offers that may request payment to claim a prize. These recorded messages have been particularly valuable after business hours when consumers who were prepared to forward money in response to a scam contact were able to hear the warnings.
Mailing Inserts: The mail delivered to the homes of consumers by Publishers Clearing House also provides a valuable opportunity for consumer education. PCH has used this platform to include a variety of educational messages in outgoing mail. For example, tens of thousands of educational flyers produced in conjunction with the Federal Trade Commission’s Partnership for Consumer Education have been distributed. Each flyer carried the theme that “The Best Things in Life Are Free” and that “You Never Have to Pay to Play.” More recently, consumers who are our most active customers have been sent a stand-alone letter that reminds them that a purchase is never necessary to enter a sweepstakes and win.
Publishers Clearing House Website: The immediacy afforded by internet communication, has allowed Publishers Clearing House to quickly post consumer warnings and educational messages in response to current issues. In 2008, for example, we started to receive reports from consumers alerting us about a scam that requested money and illegally used our name and that of Oprah Winfrey’s magazine. In response we were able to quickly post a warning to consumers indicating that this offer was completely bogus and had no connection with the real Publishers Clearing House or O Magazine.
Information Sharing & Enforcement
Scam Database: Consumers who contact Publishers Clearing House with reports of scams illegally using our name are requested to provide a full report of the incident to specially trained customer service representatives. Such information is recorded on a scam database created and maintained by Publishers Clearing House. The information compiled on the Publishers Clearing House scam report database is reviewed to spot developing trends and is shared with law enforcement and consumer protection authorities around the country and across borders.
Telephone “Take Downs”: Working directly with international legal representatives, brand protection organizations and the telephone carriers themselves, PCH has been able to quickly shut down phone numbers associated with the scam reports we receive. Most often, these numbers are connected with short term cell phones with no name or record available to track down the individuals behind the number. Taking the number down as soon as possible is an effective tool in slowing down the scammers and protecting those consumers who may have been ready to call the numbers in response to a scam contact.
In an effort to better educate consumers and fight those who may perpetrate frauds using the guise of a legitimate sweepstakes, Publishers Clearing House has actively participated in a number of public/private partnerships whose mission is to stamp out the scams.
PCH was a founding corporate member of the National Public/Private Fake Check Task Force sponsored by the National Consumers League and Consumer Federation of America. Working with a diverse group of interested public and private partners from the business and regulatory communities, the task force has developed a number of national public education programs and meets regularly to share strategies for fighting the bad guys.
PCH was a leading supporter and member of the Alliance for Consumer Fraud Awareness, a private-public initiative of the Postal Inspection Service. The mission of the Alliance has been to empower consumers to recognize and avoid consumer scams through public education and media programs. Members represent over 20 financial institutions, associations, consumer advocacy groups and businesses.
A Message From our Partners at The Federal Trade Commission
PCH and the FTC would like you to know that while consumers of all ages are targets for Scams, the consequences often are more severe for older people, many of whom live alone and have no way to recoup their losses. This video from our partners at the FTC provides helpful information for seniors or those caregivers helping seniors with these issues. Remember to “Pass It On” and help fight fraud!
The Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs has asked PCH to assist them in their efforts to educate and protect consumers about the pitfalls of internet scams. They have provided us with the below link which you can click on and check out.
When you click on their link you will first see a "teaser" page which appears to offer consumers an irresistible deal. It is modeled to look like so many websites that promise guaranteed results, but in fact deliver nothing in return for the consumers' money. You can feel safe clicking on any of the links displayed on the page, as you will then be directed to a "protection" message brought to you courtesy of the Massachusetts Office of Consumer Affairs.
As part of our ongoing commitment to consumer education and protection, PCH is proud to partner with the MA Consumers Affairs Bureau, in a joint effort to help you, the consumer, stay safe and secure from any type of internet scam.
Text Message Scams
Publishers Clearing House has recently been made aware of fraudulent text messages, which include a reference to the "Prize Patrol," being sent to mobile devices by scam artists. Recipients are told they have won a $1,000 Walmart gift card and are then asked to reply and visit a particular internet site where they will be asked to provide certain private and personal information. These sites are bogus and are in no way affiliated with Publishers Clearing House or our famous Prize Patrol. The message that you have won a Walmart gift card is bogus and any mention of Publishers Clearing House, our employees, or the PCH Prize Patrol is fraudulent and being used without our permission or authorization. Consumers should not respond to these bogus text messages and should not share personal or private information which could lead to identity theft or credit card fraud.
Beware of Fake Facebook, Twitter and Instagram Profiles
Publishers Clearing House wants to warn you about scam artists pretending to be the Publishers Clearing House Prize Patrol or other PCH employees on the social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.
How do you know if a profile is the real Publishers Clearing House or a scam? First, nobody from Publishers Clearing House will ever send friend requests to you on Facebook. If you receive one, it is a scam. Second, the PCH Prize Patrol members (Danielle Lam, Dave Sayer, and Todd Sloane) and PCH employees do not send private messages on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. If you receive one, it is a scam. Third, Publishers Clearing House does not notify our winners through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or any other social media website. Finally, if you ever receive a message or contact asking you to send any money to claim prize IT IS A SCAM. At Publishers Clearing House the winning is always free and you never have to pay any amount to enter or win.
These are the ONLY legitimate Prize Patrol pages on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram:
The PCH Prize Patrol on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pchprizepatrol/
@PCHDanielle on Twitter: https://twitter.com/PCHDanielle
pchprizepatroldanielle on Instagram: http://instagram.com/pchprizepatroldanielle/
For more PCH social media scam prevention tips, please watch this video from Prize Patrol member Danielle Lam: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ttY3LLIgyTQ
You can also find more great Scam Prevention videos right on our YouTube page.
How To Report A PCH Scam
Anyone who believes they have been the victim of a fraudulent contact using the name of Publishers Clearing House, may report it to us by clicking here to fill out and complete a scam incident report.
We appreciate your visit to the fraud protection section of our site and thank you for reporting that helps educate consumers about scam artists who oftentimes use our good name in attempts to deceive. Unfortunately, some well-intentioned coverage of this issue has resulted in headline and text copy that may be read to indicate that the scam is from the real Publishers Clearing House. Headlines like “Publishers Clearing House Scam”, or “PCH Drawing – You May Be a Loser”, or “Beware of the PCH Scam” can easily be read as a representation against the real PCH. We would ask all media reporting on these stories to make it clear in headlines and text copy that the scam is being perpetuated by imposters and not the real Publishers Clearing House.