Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes Scams

April 01, 2010
Picture this:  It’s 8:30a.m. on an idle Tuesday.  You’re sitting at your breakfast table drinking coffee and reading the paper when you hear the doorbell ring.  Curious, you open the front door and are greeted by a horde of people with balloons, TV cameras, and a gigantic check – You’ve just won the Publishers Clearing House (PCH) Sweepstakes!  

This scenario is certainly a dream come true for many people, but the odds of any person winning up to $10,000,000 are 1 in 1,750,000,000.  If you don’t recall ever entering the sweepstakes, the odds just don’t exist.

So what should you do when you receive those letters in the mail or that phone call indicating you’re a winner of the PCH sweepstakes?  One of the easiest things to do is to look up the PCH number yourself (from a trusted source like BBB) and give them a call; representatives should be able to verify if the letter you’re holding is legitimate or if it’s a scam.  According to PCH, winning entrants of the contest must be located and sign an Affidavit of Eligibility within 30 days of being chosen as the winner or another entrant will be selected.  If the phone call or letter you’ve received asks for money, bear in mind that the real PCH says; “winning is always free.”    

BBB suggests that you exercise caution when responding to any sweepstakes or lottery solicitation.  Be wary if the company asks for money to cover fees as you would only need to pay the IRS directly.  Check for reports on unfamiliar companies.  Suspicious letters received by mail can be submitted to the US Postal Inspection Service ( for review and phone calls can be reported to the National Fraud Center ( or by calling the PCH Customer Service Line at (800) 645-9242.