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.
PCH makes 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 attractive 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. The bank will make funds available immediately when you deposit the check, but it can take weeks for the check to fully clear.
The scammer will tell you that the check was the first installment on the winnings, and an extra payment is required before sending 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 the PCH sweepstakes is www.pch.com.
The most important thing to know to beat PCH scammers is to understand how Publishers Clearing House notifies winners and how to contact them to verify if you receive a notification that you have won.
Major Prize Winners (over $10,000) and SuperPrize winners ($1,000,000) are notified in person by what PCH calls the Prize Patrol. Major Prize Winners and Super Prize Winners are never notified by email.
The Prize Patrol consists of PCH employees that travel across America to the winners' homes and present cash sweepstakes prizes in person. They typically arrive unannounced to surprise the winners. It is generally recorded, and the footage is used for promotional purposes. Super Prizes are delivered by a team called the Prize Patrol Elite, which includes Dave Sayer, Todd Sloane, Danielle Lam, and Howie Guja. So, if one of them knocks on your door, chances are your life is about to change. More information is available on the Prize Patrol Facebook page.
If the prize is less than $10,000, they notify winners via an overnight express carrier like FedEx or UPS. However, they state on their website that they occasionally tell winners by email. This is where you need to do some due diligence. If you have received a winning notice from Publishers Clearing House, you should contact immediately to check that it is not a scam.
|Contact Details for PCH to Confirm Winnings|
|Call PCH to confirm winnings and check that your letter is not a scam.||
|You can view a list of verified winners on the PCH website. There is a link on the page to a document that is updated monthly.||https://www.pch.com/winners|
|Email PCH to confirm winnings and check that your letter is not a scam. You can also forward emails to this address.||[email protected]|
|If you know the message is a scam, you can fill out a fraud report.||https://pch.custhelp.com/app/report_scam|
If you suspect 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 ensure the email header information is included.
The email header is crucial because it can include information on the sender and the message's route 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 would like to stop receiving marketing messages from PCH, there are different processes to follow depending on the type of communication that you would like to stop.
If you want to unsubscribe from all marketing communications, including mail and email, you can submit a single request via the Ask a Question page on their website.
To unsubscribe from PCH emails, click on unsubscribe at the bottom of a PCH email. Clicking on the link will take you to a page that asks you to confirm the following:
Please unsubscribe me from receiving further promotional emails from Publishers Clearing House that are sent under the pch.com and superprize.pch.com domains. I understand that I will no longer receive new opportunities to win via these emails or receive additional special offers they may contain from select partners.
Underneath the Submit button, they display the following fine print:
Unsubscribing from Publishers Clearing House promotional emails on this page will NOT prevent you from receiving further transactional emails which includes entry confirmations, order confirmations, shipping confirmations and electronic bills.
PCH sends emails from multiple sites, including:
Unsubscribing from one does not stop the emails from the others. If you want to unsubscribe from all of them, you have to repeat the process for each one. PCH claims that you should stop receiving emails within 7-10 days.
If you receive physical mail from PCH and you would like to unsubscribe, you need to fill out a Remove from Mailing List form on their website. The website states that you may continue to receive mail for 6-8 weeks after you lodge your request as their marketing material is prepared in advance.
PCH will keep your data as long as your account is active and is needed to provide you with any goods or services you have purchased.
If you would like PCH to stop using your data or sharing it with third parties, you must email them at [email protected]. You must be specific in your request and ask that they no longer keep or use your data for any purpose other than to comply with their legal obligations.
You should expect a response back from them confirming their action. It is worth noting that data privacy laws do vary by state—residents in California and Nevada do have additional rights to control and access the use of their data.
Litigation related to lotteries is pretty standard. When you have a considerable number of individuals hopeful of fulfilling the dream of winning big companies designed to deliver profits, it creates predictable problems. Publishers Clearing House is no exception and has faced multiple litigations over the years. Some of the more recent cases include:
While issues around misleading marketing—the sale of customer data and imposter scams might be considered the darker side of the business—PCH does a considerable amount for the community besides delivering winners checks. According to their website, more than 40% of the company profits are given to community organizations and annual charity events.
Fabulous wealth and life-changing prizes aren't always what's to be expected after receiving a call from PCH—it could just be a scam to steal your information and money.
It may be exciting to receive a letter telling you you've won a huge sweepstakes prize, but before you celebrate, verify the letter first. More often than not, it's a scam.
When entering PCH sweepstakes to win money and other prizes, make sure you're on the actual PCH website and not a fake version.
If you receive a check in the mail from Publishers Clearing House from winning a sweepstake, don't celebrate just yet.
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