Publishers Clearing House (PCH) was founded in 1953 in Port Washington, New York. Their original business was sending direct mail, advertising a range of magazine subscriptions. In 1967 they decided to start giving away some of their profits to customers to promote their business. These were highly visible and staged events often aired on TV, complete with large novelty checks.
According to PCH, they make nearly $1 billion per year selling a wide range of merchandise and advertising revenue from visitors to their website and virtual casinos. People can play free games, like bingo and slot machines, to win chances to enter into prize draws. Prizes range from $1,000 to their most significant and best-known prize—$5,000 a week for the rest of your life.
The large numbers of people entering PCH lotteries and the storyline of winning money make it an easy target for scammers. Some of the PCH scams to watch out for include:
Scammers will call, text, email, mail, or send a private message to you via Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. They will say you've won a PCH lottery and need to pay a fee or tax to claim your winnings in the form of cash or prepaid gift cards.
When calling you, scammers use a spoofing technique to show "Publisher's Clearing House" on your caller ID and trick you into picking up and thinking it's really them. They will also use fake social media profiles impersonating PCH.
On the surface, this seems somewhat believable. However, in reality, if you have won a PCH lottery, income taxes are either deducted before you receive the prize, or you pay the taxes directly to the IRS.
Similar to the taxes and fees scam above, scammers will send an official-looking letter claiming you won a prize and include a check that looks real. When you deposit the check, the bank will make funds available immediately, but it can take weeks for the check to clear.
The scammer will tell you that the check was the first installment on the winnings and an extra payment is required before they can send the next installment. You not only lose the money that you send to the scammer but when the check bounces, you owe the bank any money that you withdrew.
When signing up for PCH sweepstakes, be sure you're on the legitimate Publishers Clearing House site and not a phony one set up by scammers trying to steal your information. The only website that will enter you into PCH sweepstakes is www.pch.com.
To beat Publisher's Clearing House scams:
If you suspect that you have been contacted by a PCH scammer, file a Scam Incident Report online. If you have been contacted via email, forward the scam email to [email protected] and make sure the email header information is included.
The email header is crucial because it can include information on the sender and the route that the message takes as it is sent from a scammer's computer to yours. It is a bit like recording the post office's name where a letter was sent from and the name of the one that it arrived at.
To access the email header in Gmail follow these steps:
If you receive a check in the mail from Publishers Clearing House from winning a sweepstake, don't celebrate just yet.
When entering PCH sweepstakes to win money and other prizes, make sure you're on the actual PCH website and not a fake version.
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