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Who wouldn’t love to be that winner you see on TV holding a great big sweepstakes check? That’s what con artists are counting on when they claim to be Publishers Clearing House. This trick is an oldie but goodie for scammers.

The scam starts with a call or letter saying you’ve won the Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes. But to collect your prize, they say, you need to send money to pay for fees and taxes. Typically you’ll be asked to send money by Western Union or MoneyGram, or by getting a reloadable card or gift card. Scammers ask you to pay these ways because it’s nearly impossible to trace the money — and you’ll almost never get it back.

But that’s not the only way scammers get your money with this scam. Some will send you a realistic-looking fake check in the mail. You’re told that, to claim your prize, you need to deposit the check and send some of the money back for made-up expenses. But when the check you deposit bounces — even after it seemed to clear — you may be on the hook for the money you sent.

If you think you’ve won a prize, here are a few things to know:

  • Never send money to collect a prize, sweepstakes check, or lottery winnings. If you have to pay, it’s a scam.
  • Never deposit a check and send back money, even if the funds appear in your account. That’s a sure sign of a scam.
  • If anyone calls asking you to pay for a prize, hang up and report it to the FTC at

Want to know more? Read our article on Prize Scams. And, if you wired money to a prize scammer via Western Union between January 1, 2004 and January 19, 2017, you might be eligible for a refund.

Still think it’s real? The real Publishers Clearing House says it will never ask you to pay a fee to collect a prize. Check out Publishers Clearing House’s fraud protection page.

Note: The title was updated on April 25, 2018 to make clear that this blog post addresses scammers impersonating Publishers Clearing House.

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The purpose of this blog and its comments section is to inform readers about Federal Trade Commission activity, and share information to help them avoid, report, and recover from fraud, scams, and bad business practices. Your thoughts, ideas, and concerns are welcome, and we encourage comments. But keep in mind, this is a moderated blog. We review all comments before they are posted, and we won’t post comments that don’t comply with our commenting policy. We expect commenters to treat each other and the blog writers with respect.

  • We won’t post off-topic comments, repeated identical comments, or comments that include sales pitches or promotions.
  • We won’t post comments that include vulgar messages, personal attacks by name, or offensive terms that target specific people or groups.
  • We won’t post threats, defamatory statements, or suggestions or encouragement of illegal activity.
  • We won’t post comments that include personal information, like Social Security numbers, account numbers, home addresses, and email addresses. To file a detailed report about a scam, go to

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Don't use yous…
January 13, 2020
Publishers clearing House keep saying you don’t have to buy anything and yet every time I try to enter it says I must buy something to continue it’s a sham
January 18, 2020
I think I may have encountered a twist on the scam. A friend contacted me, first as a friend on Facebook, then they texted me.. They asked me if I heard the news. And said they won the PCH, and sent me pics of this huge new motor home. Then they said they saw my name on a list of winners.... I checked with a mutual friend, they did not win. Someone must have stole their identity. Please be careful. Do not fall for this scam.
January 21, 2020
Just received call about winning Publisher's Clearing House sweepstakes. 2nd prize of $750,000. All I have to send them is $3500. to get the money. Phone #785-284-5914 was the number to call them back. I kept playing stupid after that. They sent me a 7-page message including full contract and photos. Even a copy of Howard Foster's passport. Who are these people and are they kidding? Do people still fall for this stuff?
Not me
January 27, 2020
Just got a call from John Spencer telling me he was with PCH and that I had won 7.5 mil. He gave me his badge # JS1969. He said it would be delivered to me with package # 360110USA-State, Delivery #0012809-State, and confirmation #454-BCH. He gave me a phone number then corrected it. The first number was 502-200-3964 and the second number was 502-200-6365. He wanted me to repeat all the information that I had collected from him for verification, I did not do it. I then told him that it was my understanding that PCH never calls their winners. He asked how I knew that and I said they published that info on their website. He then hung up on me.
January 28, 2020
I was contacted today (1/28/2020) by James Anderson who said he was the Prize Director for Publishers Clearing House and his badge number was !J396PC. I won $2.5 Million and a Mercedes. I have been married for 30 years but he used my Maiden Name - red flag #1. I would have to pick up a registration card today at the Walmart nearest my house and I would have to pay for shipping and handling. I then said I didn't believe him and that it was a scam and he hung up on me. He called my home from 876-871-0804 that came up as Jamaica. He had a horrible accent that sounded like a computer enhanced voice.
February 03, 2020
I received a 'friend request' on Facebook which I only accepted as she is a 'friend of a friend'. She started on how are you etc and then asked whether I had claimed my prize, as she had seen my photo. As I had not heard of them before and certainly had not given them a photo or let them use a photo, I told her so. I have blocked her and reported it to Facebook.
Derek Wilkie
February 03, 2020
I live in New Zealand and I have these people demanding I send them money.I have names and phone numbers but pch don't want to know. These people don't take no for an answer
February 11, 2020
I believe I’ve had two interesting events! 1.was called by PCH REP.said this is your code....gave me 4numbers told me to call an claim.! Foolishly tried line busy!! Then got phone call from peter Jones have me a number to call back-again foolishly I did he couldn’t find me I said I had and hung up-he sure called back-i did not answer or call back-the call was coming from NY! BE SAFE FOLKS-remember -IF YOU ARE THE WINNER,YOU DONT PAY FOR ANYTHING UP FRONT! PLEASE FOLKS HAVE LOST EVERYTHING WITH THESE NO-GOOD-DOERS!! GOD BLESS!!!
February 22, 2020
my brother received a call today from a man claim to be from publisher clearing house, said he won 5 millon dollars, the keys to a 2020 mercedes, 5 thousand dollars a week for life gave him a phone number, batch number, prize number and a pin number. said they will be on his door step on 2/24/2020.. got love how some people think we are all idiots.
February 25, 2020
I just got a scam call saying I won 5 million and and a new Mercedes then was ask3d to go to Dollar General and put $400 on a Ebay Gift or shopping card.When I said I don't have any money they try to tell me to borrow from someone or pawn something which I have nothing. So I just hung up says his name is John Malone #925-317-1248 watch out.
Dabi Moore
March 11, 2020
Beware: a Dabi Moore called me from 876-350-0819 today claiming that i signed up for PCH 4 years ago and have won 1.5 million dollars, and can have it after paying a processing fee. When i informed him that that is not how PCH works he hung up on me.
Army girl
March 15, 2020
My dad just received a text from a person from PCH asking for his name address income mothers name gave him a batch number and information and asking that he does not give out the information to anyone claiming he's won 80000. A family member claim she saw his name on the PCH website stating that he won and gave him the contact information of the PCH person.
Gordon Lee Lyon
March 24, 2020
Not any of that's happened. I had to change my pass word an gmail for sucruty reasons. An PCB will not let me in an I'm a finalest. Please can you help. Gordon Lyon
March 26, 2020
Just received a call from 423-651-1509, a voice recording telling me I had won the Publishers Clearinghouse grand prize! SCAM!!!!! Beware, I did a reverse phone number check and it is a SCAM, unfortunately!
Don't Fall for it
March 27, 2020
I too received a call today from a 917 area coded within the U.S. that said I won $5.5MM and a new Mercedes S Class. They tried to make it sound legit by providing a prize claim #, etc. The person I spoke with said the call was being recorded by the BBB and Homeland Security for quality control. After about 10 min on the phone, he started telling me I needed to go get a cashier's check from my bank, and go to a Wells Fargo bank to deposit it for a 1% tax $2,700 before the "Prize Patrol" would come to my house today.
March 30, 2020
I just received a phone message from John Henry with Publishers Clearing House that I had won the Second Place Prize of $950,000. He requested that I call 916-905-7532. It sounded like the caller was calling from a large vacant room. His voice echoed.
April 04, 2020
Yes received a call from PCH or so they say, for my husband saying he won $15 million, Trip for 2 Around The World, $5,000 a week for Life and a 2020 Mercedes Bends. Her name was Mary Cooper, she gave me another number to call to get an agent code number and pin number his name was David Sawyers and then had to call the driver which was in Virginia Beach, VA waiting to deliver our prize we live in Front Royal, VA and his name was John Miller asked for our address, okay you would think they had that info already. Let me just say all of these people sounded exactly alike, but with different phone numbers. He wanted to know how old we were. Said the call was being monitor by the Fed's and In order to claim the prizes we had to go to the Dollar General Store to purchase a $200 Green Dot Money Card and he wanted our cell phone number so he could make sure we purchased the right card and how long would it take us to get there. I told him we do not give out that information only to family and we could call him back with the code when we got back since it was only 5 miles away. Played along up until that point for fun and the call dropped. Then Mary Cooper called back asking if we contacted the claim place who was David Sawyers and driver John Miller and if he advised us what to do and I told her yes. I started putting her on the spot by asking her why we had to do this and she said it was required and still asked her why to explain. I stating that PCH does not require money from me to obtain the prize and that ended that. Even though Mary Cooper tried to call back several times and we no longer answered the call. What a scam!!!!! So here are the numbers Mary Cooper from Discovery Bay JM? 876-829-9930, David Sawyers 916-237-0204 and John Miller 876-468-2761. So beware and hope this helps.
April 15, 2020
I keep getting a call from 628-666-9541. This is new one to me. A David Ocean. He has a badge number, package number of passcode. These people never quit and they just keep getting more and more clever and aggressive. I wish there was a way to stop them.
April 18, 2020
Someone names according to the call Richard Bartley with Badge #1249RB claimed I won $20,000,000.00 plus Bonus Price and where going to do paperwork and call back with instructions, the # is 876-893-7187. I received the call on 4/18/2020 at 12:28 PM. What a scam I blocked the # in case they call back.
April 25, 2020
Received a call from 626-376-9703 , Jamaican or Bahamas accent male, about winning publishing clearing house. He wanted banking information. Recorded phone for voice identification. When I told him I never signed up of PCH he got angry and used profanity. His call was blocked. Beware. He asked about age. PCH will never call you and tell you are a winner!!
April 28, 2020
peter pch claim department of pchs encrypted and private im your agent asigned to you prize you should do whats best for you or best for your slef you cam forfeit this at anytime youavhould kno want to claim this fmthis is your anerican drena your not a loser your a winner your total in control this is a legitmate all yoy have to is follow intruction to habe a faith and trust just give one hundred percent o f your trust your a winner and not a loser here Just got off the phoen sorry was typing as he was talking if you need anything clarified just let. Me know phone number is +18086339614 claiming to be PCH
Rose Marie
April 30, 2020
I was called from 432-847-2317 I was told I won second place in Publishers Clearing House and won a new Mercedes and 5 1/2 million. I knew if they didn't show up today it was a scam. I got a call today saying they were delayed but I didn't agree to pay the tax or whatever he wanted I knew just by his voice he was not American. I hung up, he called again I got more of what he wanted from me I hung up again. This time it was a call with no number. I am leaving the number so the FTC can get the scammers.
May 03, 2020
What is pch adds you as a friend and tells you your a winner and they dont ask for money but my name and address
May 12, 2020
James washington, is a scam artist. He tried to scam me. He wanted me to put money on a gift card.
Sad world
May 16, 2020
My Mother was called yesterday by a man claiming to be from PCH. He told her she won the big prize, 2,500,000.00. He gave a badge number and a confirmation number. She said he sounded so real. He told her she would be getting a packet in the mail and his secretary would be calling her. He told her the prize patrol would be out next Friday. He also knew my mom’s name. He asked her if she was married. She called me after and said something weird just happened and told me this story. She said she normally doesn’t answer phone calls she does not recognize but the phone rang 3 times right after each other. She thought by the 3rd time someone important was calling so she had better answer it. I looked up the number and it was from Madison Wisconsin. I also looked up PCH phone number and there was one to call for scams. So my mom called it and they told her they never call anyone. They would either send out a certified check or come in person. So mom got worried that the scammer was going to come to the house so I had her call her local police. The Officer told her as long as she didn’t give out any information she would be ok. He told her the scammer would not come to her house. Now that I read some of these posts and I see that some people did have people come out to their homes this has me worried. I will again tell my mom not to answer the door Incase someone does and to immediately call the police. Mom lives to far for me to be at her house next Friday. People can be so cruel to do this to innocent, vulnerable people. Be careful and warn your family and friends that PCH does not call, text or e-mail you.
May 16, 2020
Right now I have one person from published clear house saying the I win $500,0000 and o need to let them know if I’m ready to claiming but I know that a a manes because they always ask for money and when I tell them that I’m not pay a shot they block me Jajajaja I already went they all this one time and I sure they not get me again
June 24, 2020
I received a call today from a man name David said he was from PCH that I won 4million dollars ask if I wanted it deliver tonight That was a red flag alert I told him I could wait and he said for what I said for the date it is to be delivered on , he said oh so I hung up on him , he was calling from Kingston , JM , phone number is 1 876 404 3299
July 12, 2020
OnA friend insists he won 17 million dollars from pch but that pch told he will not receive a check for about 9 weeks because pch has no one working in their offices due to covid19. He said he has not been asked to send money but it still sounds fishy to me.
July 18, 2020
I got the call today, they only want $399.00 to receive my 8.5 million dollars and a new Mercedes Benz. (876)471-2370
July 21, 2020
I was contacted and told I needed to go to my bank and set up a savings account for them to make a deposit of $10,000 a month. I got to choose what color of limo I wanted them to show up in, black or white. Then they gave me a phone number to call them when I was at my bank. When I said this sounded like a scam, he told me he was a godly man and that what he said was honest. They told me not to say anything to my husband. That I should surprise him. They were very pushy that I should drop everything and run to the bank. When they called back I told them to give the money to someone else. Then I texted the number they gave me. I told him he was NOT a godly man but rather he was a liar and a theif. I told him not to contact me ever again. I also said I had reported them to the authorities. He said his name was Mr. Goodman. What a scam!!.
Kim RobinsonDo…
July 31, 2020
I would like to know if you have a employee by the name of David Cooper. He called present him self as a pch account department authorized to deposit
August 05, 2020
First of all - I'm never going to pay someone a DIME to even DEFINITELY let me win anything, much less only have a 1 in 5 million chance. That's ludicrous. But like an idiot, I HAVE bought a couple of items (as gifts for others) via PCH regular mail. And once had an account which I ENDED bc they blow up your email with 10 emails daily!! Arrrrrggg Secondly, if ANY PCH was real AT ALL, they wouldn't send me 2 different 'winning' numbers EVERY WEEK. I would have ONE winning number per drawing that I could enter as often as I like per drawing. There is no way any person can keep up with all the numbers AND criteria they mail you ('FIND & put this sticker here -FIND & put THAT sticker there'- be sure to do __& __) It's so 'easy' yet you really can't feel sure it's all done correctly . . . BTW - I could'a ALREADY GOT RICH by owning & harvesting trees, and/or running a pulpmill PRODUCING ALL THE JUNK MAIL they send me sometimes TWICE A WEEK. Wanna get rich fairly quick instead of overnight? Want MUCH BETTER ODDS of getting rich?? Plant trees, go into logging & buy stock in a pulp mill . . .
August 07, 2020
Got a call from John Peterson stating i won 5 million. I googled John Peterson, Publisher's Clearing house. I hound this thread and hung up.
August 07, 2020
I just received a call from John Peterson from an unknown number. He said he was with PCH and I had won 2 million. I needed to purchase an Amazon gift card. I started asking to many questions and he hung up.
August 07, 2020
They called me today (from Jamaica). Said it was Publishers Clearinghouse and that I'd won. I could tell it was a scam but stayed on to hear their spiel. The caller asked why I didn't sound excited to learn I'd won millions of dollars, a pearl white Buick sports car and $5000 a day for life. I asked if they were going to send somebody to my front door with the bouquet, the big check and the camera. "Yes, they're on their way." I said that was good, I'd be at home waiting. Caller started to confirm my name, etc. etc. so I hung up. They tried to call back and I didn't answer. Easy come, easy go!
Candace A.
August 11, 2020
I received an email from Jeffery Smith claiming to be the pch awards manager informing me I had won $290,000 from PCH, wanting specific information, I did not fall for the scam, if I didn't enter a contest how could I win it.
August 29, 2020
yep, i got the same call supposedly form PCH and i messed with him his name was Michael also and i told them as soon as i get the 4.4 million in cash only i would not send them nothing LOL and then of course a click , bunch of heartless people!!
September 01, 2020
I received a FB message from someone I know but am not close to. She asked how I was doing. Then she said she just received a sweepstakes prize of $100,000 from Publishers Clearing house that they had set up for people to help with current financial needs. She said they delivered her prize in person and she saw my name on the list they had. She said I should call them to find out if I had won too. She gave me her agents number, 312-509-8099. Since this woman was a very upstanding member of our community I texted the number. Of course once they got down to the part that I had won but would need to send them 2,000 for fees and taxes first I knew it was a scam. The woman whose FB account they used must be away because I couldn’t reach her via her home phone. When I tried to messenger her on FB I got this scam person telling me that it was all legitimate as she had sent the 2,000 and got her 100,000 within 12 hours. This happened on August 12, 2020.
T. Mudd
September 03, 2020
Just received a call like this from 1-876-865-4611. A man with a very thick foreign accent stating I won 2 million and a Benz. He asked how I felt about it and I replied it depends on what you say next, I've been scammed before is this a scam? He then lost connection.
Robert Mith
September 08, 2020
Scam alert: Publisher’s scam artist will attempt to get you to give them banking information like account number. They say it’s to speed up process by direct deposit. DO NOT GIVE THEM ANYTHING. THAT INCLUDES BANK NANE AND ACCOUNT NUMBER. They will use info to overdraft your account stoking you with amount they stole. I told the scammer send me a check.
Smart consumer
September 11, 2020
On 9-11-2020 I received a phone call from 516-405-4578 from Indian sounding male saying I won pch millions and a Mercedes.I could hear another man and wind in the background.Knew immediately was a scam but decided to play along to see how far he would take it.He wanted me to go to the nearest drugstore to get a visa vanilla gift card to pay $499.99 upfront verification taxes and would need my id.He asked me how long it would take.He was going to call me when I got back fron Walgreens.I talked very monotone like him on purpose.Why are you talking this way he said,do you think this is a joke?I said I just woke up.He said sooner I went the sooner prize patrol could be at my doorstep.I asked if he had my address,he put me on hold,with music!!!Two minutes later he got back on the line and replied with my address.I said oh wait I have a visa here .He asked me to read the 16 digit number.You want the 3 digit on the back too? I said .Of course I had no visa,just playing along still.Yes,he said.Well I will give you THAT card when you show up on my doorstep with balloons!!!! I said.I also want your managers number.He gave it as 815-336-3798.He called back twice and second time I answered and I said wait I have to go to the bathroom.Then 502-951-2140 called with 30ish white male saying Hello? then hanging up.516-405-4578 called back again two more times,I did not answer. Still waiting on my red balloons and Mercedes, lol.
Darlene Figueroa
September 29, 2020
I just received a phone call at 10:46am and the guys name warm ray Johnson. He said I won 2.5 million and 5,too a week for life and a new car .he asked me how I felt I said to be honest I didn't believe it. And then he gave me clam numbers and winning numbers .and asked if I was married or single I said a widow because my husband passed away from the virus. And it was a very hard time. HD said no worries that I would be able to buy food and things I needed..then he asked me to go get a 400 .dollar card from the drug store which I have no money then I knew it was a scam just for a moment I thought wow I could be able to have enough for Bill's food fuel and help others to.i pray that whoever is doing this gets caught it's so sad to try to get money from people at this time in the world and scam and also asked me if I was 60 or older .just for a moment I thought wow I could do alot and also help others.
October 09, 2020
I receive a call from the following # that they were publishers clearing house with a prize cashier's check being delivered to our house through ups. They just ask for paperwork filled out ahead for 1 percent back. The call came from # 1-876-422-0153.
Too savvy
October 20, 2020
I got a call from “Peter Johnson” at 813-578-6477 telling me I won $1.5 million and a brand new car. He gave me a package number and told me that I would have to pay $399 in taxes for receiving my prize. I was instructed to go to Walmart or Walgreens to get a gift card and put the $399 on it. Only then would everything be legal and they could begin the process to deliver my gift. I told him I wouldn’t do that until after I received the money and the car, but he was adamant that I had to get the gift card beforehand. When I wouldn’t budge, he then said he was going to cancel the delivery, but I would still be charged the $399 since the check and car are already in my name. I asked him what card he was going to charge, but he wouldn’t give an answer. He got so fed up, he eventually hung up. It’s a complete scam. Don’t waste your time or money! I know PCH doesn’t even let people know ahead of time that they’ve won, but I kept on the phone to see how this would play out.
October 23, 2020
My call was from Michael Collins Senior VP PCH. Badge # 00011US. He gave his phone # as 917-900-9381. His address was given. He said I would get $200,000.00 cash with 35 cashiers checks for $800,000.
October 23, 2020
I am familiar with the Publishers Clearing House scam. However, it seems they're affiliated with the Magazine Exchange scam also. They say I ordered this and I did call, as they said, however, I was hoping to get a trial deal. Now they say I owe $278.00! I've yet to receive a magazine, and I do not want, them in the first place. On top of that, the person I spoke to was ultra rude and talking over me. How can I fight this, when they didn't allow me to speak my concerns, with the situation, only bombarding me with what I owe.
October 28, 2020
I just felt with a scammer I think they asked for money and I refused so how do i report this?
November 01, 2020
In 2019 my 79 year old mother after being a widow for 27 years was scammed by Publishers Clearing House and lost approximately $150,000 on the pretense of winning big. This predator new enough about my mother and her life to use the love she has for her children into thinking she could make a difference for us all by winning and giving it to us. After the bank's urging to my brother to check my mother's accounts and it was discovered she was embarrassed and ashamed and felt stupid. My mother was forced to drop out of the 8th grade was married at 16 and was a beautiful caring wife and is a giving loving mother and grandmother. There should be some type of compensation or more warnings on TV or the radio or in the newspaper so the elderly do not get taken advantage of. She still struggles with this and is depressed and we are all trying to help her recover.
November 12, 2020
I need someone to confirm this number for me to see if this is a scam or not. The number in question is: 1(850) 862-8603. If anyone can confirm this that will be greatly appreciated.
Edward greenless
November 15, 2020
I was contacted by facebook by PCH,, Impersonating a family member. They said I was eligible for a new program to help seniors, disabled people and others. Being skepticle when the sked me to get a prepaid card for 500.oo dollars , photo both sides of the card and get back to them when I had it. Once i realized it could be a scam I asked this socalled family member a question only she would have known emediatly what the answere was .They failed to answere the question. Then signed out of facebook and disappeared..Look out people..Even if you think its real it isnt..