Publishers Clearing House scams: what they are and how to spot them.
Got a call claiming you won the Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes? Better hang up, because that’s a scammer trying to swindle you!
What is PCH?
PCH stands for Publishers Clearing House, a direct marketing company that offers sweepstakes, contests, and games through which participants can win cash prizes, merchandise, and other rewards. The company is known for its popular “Prize Patrol” that travels to the homes of sweepstakes winners to present them with their prizes in person.
How does a PCH scam work?
Scammers will either call or email their victims and pretend to be representatives of the company. They will offer their victims large sums of money or some other luxurious prizes. But since this is a scam, there’s a catch!
The scammers will claim that you need to pay a bogus fee of some sort before you can claim your prize.
How to spot a PCH scam:
- You get a call/text/email telling you that you’re the lucky winner. PCH winners get their prizes in person at their doorstep with giant bouquets of flowers and champagne and they’re never called about it in advance.
Some users online have received these sorts of texts from scammers claiming to be PCH reps:
- Fraudsters don’t want any paper trails leading back to them, so it’s very likely that they will ask for payment in the form of gift cards.
They ask you to send them the codes on the back of the cards to “verify” your prize. Winning PCH is always free and if you’re ever asked to pay then that automatically means it’s a scam.
(source: official PCH twitter account)
- Some others might even ask you for sensitive data about yourself, like your social security number or bank account details to steal your identity.
- If you’re still in doubt about whether or not what you’re dealing with is a scam, make sure to call PCH customer service and ask about the situation at 1-800-459-4724.
What to do if you’ve fallen victim to this scam?
Make sure to report it immediately! Here are some resources to help you:
Internet Crime Complaint Center (FBI): https://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx
United States Postal Service: https://www.usps.com/help/welcome.htm
And let your voice be heard online and share your story on social media such as Twitter or Reddit and report it on Scamwatcher.