Publishers Clearing House Scam Buster Tips

Publishers Clearing House scam warning:  Beware fake check scams are on the rise!

Fake check schemes, where consumers are lured into accepting phony checks in return for sending or wiring cash to a fraudster, can prove costly to unsuspecting consumers.  These check scams are the most frequently reported scam complaints.  And, many use “sweepstakes” as a ruse – telling victims they have won millions of dollars but must first pay taxes or other fees out of the advance check, before they can claim the rest of the prize.  Don’t believe it!  At Publishers Clearing House – as with any legitimate sweepstakes company – the winning is always free!

In these difficult economic times, Publishers Clearing House Scam Busters want to remind you to be wary of sweepstakes offers that may sound too good to be true.  Many consumers are looking for new and different ways to make ends meet and may be tempted to believe an offer they would otherwise not even consider. 

Here are three very important tips to avoid getting scammed:

  1. If someone sends you a check and asks you to send money back in return, don’t! – If you are told you have won a prize and are asked to cash a check and send or wire money back, do not! The check is a fake.  Legitimate sweepstakes will never ask you to pay a fee to claim a prize.
  2. If the company name sounds familiar or legitimate and you assume you can trust it, think again!  – Scammers oftentimes use the names of legitimate companies in an attempt to deceive and gain consumers trust.  Criminals will pretend to be affiliated with well-known, recognized and trusted brand names.  Always contact the legitimate company and talk to one of their representatives.
  3. If someone asks you to wire money to claim a sweepstakes prize, don’t!Most scammers will advise consumers to wire money via a money-transfer service.  Con-artists want money sent to them via a money-transfer service because it’s quick, it’s cash and it’s virtually impossible to trace and recover.  Wiring money is like sending cash and once it’s gone, it’s usually gone.

As members of the Consumer Federation of America’s Fake Check task force which runs under the auspices of the National Consumers League, we work together to reduce these scams. At PCH we take consumer protection and the fraudulent use of our good name very seriously and go to great lengths to combat these scams and protect our customers.  You can read more at

Remember, at Publishers Clearing House, the winning is always free.  If you are ever asked to send or wire money to claim a sweepstakes prize, you are being scammed. It’s just that simple! If you believe you have been the victim of a fraudulent contact using the name of Publishers Clearing House, please contact us at 1-800-392-4190.   If you receive a suspicious email fraudulently claiming to be from PCH, PCHLotto or PCHSearch&Win, forward it to our Publishers Clearing House scam reporting mailbox,

Visit us online at and click on our Customer Service/Info Center for more sweepstakes scam protection tips!




Margaret Crossan

PCH Consumer Affairs Department

300 thoughts on “Publishers Clearing House Scam Buster Tips”

  1. Sahls72 says:

    Thanks for the post. I googled the phone number within the first 30 seconds of the phone call and your post was first on the list! Crazy coincidence since he interrupted me playing PCH Slots on my phone.

    Got a call from 876-451-4632 caller ID says it was from Jamaica. He said his name was James Brown and that he was from Publishing Clearing house. The least he could have done is got the name right. Apparently I had won 950k and a 2014 E Class Benz. When I told him I suspected this was a scam he gave me a phone number (866-996-5997) to call to verify I had won. Wouldn’t ya know it, the automated response confirmed I won a prize! He had me write all sorts of information down and then asked me to read it all back to him. Even though I was unwilling to confirm it, he already knew my address, the company I worked for and my date of birth. The only thing he wanted really bad was the full name of my wife and got pretty upset when I wouldn’t give it to him. This went on for about a half hour. I even pretended to be in the car on my way to Walmart to wire him $295 dollars to pay for 1% of the taxes. Unfortunately, I wasn’t willing to give him the name of my wife and I was adamant about wanting a 2015 Mercedes so I lost all of my winnings. However, he did ease my mind by telling me they would be donating it to charity if I wasn’t willing to provide a name and number to someone that I would like to receive it on my behalf.

    I have to admit, he was better than the average telemarketer. He had a good story, was very convincing and put just enough pressure on you to make a mistake but not enough to scare you into hanging up. I do love to keep the callers on the line as long as possible. My record is a few hours. I could only keep this guy going for 31 minutes and 38 seconds.

    1. PCH Staff PCH Staff says:


      Thank you for posting this warning for everyone and I’m so sorry to hear about your encounter with a scammer. As you know, PCH will never ask you to pay to claim a PCH prize and we never contact winners in advance. Please report this scammer to and check out these helpful tips:

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