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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 http://help.pch.com/consumer.
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 fill out a Scam Incident Report. If you receive a suspicious email fraudulently claiming to be from PCH, PCHLotto or PCHSearch&Win, please fill out a Scam Incident Report.
PCH Consumer Affairs Department