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You get a card, call, or email telling you that you won! Maybe it’s a lottery, sweepstakes, or some other prize. The person calling is excited and can’t wait for you to get your winnings.

But here’s what happens next: they tell you there’s a fee, some taxes, or customs duties to pay. They ask for your bank account information, or ask you to send money via a wire transfer or to purchase gift cards and provide the card numbers.

Any way you send it, you lose money instead of winning it. You don’t get a big prize. Instead, you get more requests for money, and more promises that you won big. Scammers can be very convincing, and who wouldn’t want to win big!

Lottery and sweepstakes scams are one of the most common consumer frauds operating today. According to the FTC, these scams were the third-most common type of fraud reported to the agency in 2017.

Earlier this year, the FTC took action against an operation we alleged targeted older people with phony sweepstakes offers. The company sent mailers that made people think they had won $1 million (or more!), and that the recipient only needed to pay a small fee to claim it.

Help us help you and others by using the FTC’s top tips to avoid lottery and sweepstakes scams:

1. Keep your money – and your information – to yourself. Never share your financial information with someone who contacts you and claims to need it. And never wire money to or share gift card numbers with anyone who asks you to. Both payment methods are a sure sign of a scam.

2. Pass this information on to a friend. You probably throw away these kinds of bogus offers or hang up when you get these calls. But you probably know someone who could use a friendly reminder.

3. If you spot a scam, report it to the FTC at Your report can help FTC investigators identify the scammers and stop them before they steal someone’s hard-earned money.

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It is your choice whether to submit a comment. If you do, you must create a user name, or we will not post your comment. The Federal Trade Commission Act authorizes this information collection for purposes of managing online comments. Comments and user names are part of the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) public records system, and user names also are part of the FTC’s computer user records system. We may routinely use these records as described in the FTC’s Privacy Act system notices. For more information on how the FTC handles information that we collect, please read our privacy policy.

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

We don't edit comments to remove objectionable content, so please ensure that your comment contains none of the above. The comments posted on this blog become part of the public domain. To protect your privacy and the privacy of other people, please do not include personal information. Opinions in comments that appear in this blog belong to the individuals who expressed them. They do not belong to or represent views of the Federal Trade Commission.

Don't use yvit…
June 05, 2018
Trying to stee…
July 14, 2018

In reply to by Iblala

I was texted from 614 814 8803 said I won Fcebook lottery. Sent my a list if info they needed. And would deliver to my home cash .
April 23, 2019

In reply to by Trying to stee…

This just happened to me a friend messaged me that she won and she saw my name on the list from . When I called my friend the next day she said it was not her. The guy I messaged name was Robert L Jenkins the told me I won $100,000 but I had to send them $2000 in Google p!at cards and then I would get my money by courier in 24 hours . It did not feel or sound right so I did not do it.
John F
June 05, 2018
Good info thanks
June 05, 2018
What if you already are a victim of this scam
FTC Staff
June 18, 2018

In reply to by Mstoya9

You can report that to the FTC at The information you give will go into a secure database that the FTC and other law enforcement agencies use for investigations. The comments you put here on the blog don’t go into the law enforcement database.

June 05, 2018
Thanks for the info but I would never go for that I would just ricoshed it back!
June 05, 2018
I get calls and emails every day. There is one call I get from Pennsylvania constantly. I finally blocked it but, he used a different number. He calls himself David Nelson. His phone number is, 1 610-713-8417
Very Cautious …
June 05, 2018
If it is legit you do not have to pay to receive your prize. Also do you recall entering a sweepstakes. You need to enter to win. They don't need your information, they would already have the information they need if you had entered the sweepstakes.
June 05, 2018
I've turned in some of these scammers and Grant scammers to the FTC. 6 in all.
June 29, 2019

In reply to by star

letter from oz lotto , mike freeman prise adm., 1,327,940 winner, must be BS. Consumer brand sweepstakes. Did not enter any lotto..
June 05, 2018
The new scam . Craig's list , big homes for rent way to cheap , then the scam starts . take your money , not there home to rent at all .
Sad Daughter
June 05, 2018
My mom just passed away and in cleaning out her house we found several hundred items from Publisher Clearing House that my mom purchased in the hopes that she will win the big prize. Not only that but everyday, and I do mean everyday mail from PCH came to her promising money, money, money. I am so sad that this happened to her, an elderly woman with a very small income, hoping for a big win. I wish this company and others like this could be eliminated.
June 06, 2018

In reply to by Sad Daughter

That is what I did with PCH. So sad to loose the money on bad items and no prizes.
June 06, 2018

In reply to by Sad Daughter

Same experienced with me.I stopped buying products from them few years ago. That Publisher Cleaning house charged high shipping & handling and also some products are very cheap made. Their Advertising is very tempting.
June 06, 2018

In reply to by Itup

I have only bought from PCH ONCE then rad the fine print (NO PURCHASE NECESSARY) and never made another purchase (IT DOES NOT IMPROVE YOUR ODDS) again
June 10, 2018

In reply to by Sad Daughter

They should be charged with such treacherous activities then apprehended and brought to justice in which all her money also be reimbursed to you.
August 16, 2018

In reply to by Sad Daughter

Oh my, I am so glad I came across this article. Now I do not feel like a terrible daughter when I try to stop my mom from spending hundreds and hundreds of dollars on PCH items to win the big money. It has been years now and just getting worse. Yes she get mailing now almost everyday and not it has gone into my husbands name for whatever reason. My husband has never ordered from them. So everything my mom ordered is in my husbands name and they told me they combined the household into one account. I am making them fix it, but they said it will take weeks.
Bryan Griggs
January 16, 2019

In reply to by Sad Daughter

I keep getting a mailed letter from RAN or "Research America Network " saying send $30 to receive my winnings of $2,347,293 reply within 12 buisness days or results in forfeiture of my winnings. Is this for real or real good at getting people's money...
June 05, 2018
I’ve been getting a ton of unsolicited phone calls from Verizon stating that I can payoff my student loans, then they hang up and when I call back it’s Always a Verizon number trying to get me to pay my bill! 10-15 calls daily and Verizon doesn’t deny this but they can’t do anything about it! It’s driving me NUTS!!!! Is there Anything I can do to Stop these prank calls??? Please help me stop this MADNESS?!?!?!?
June 05, 2018
Last time they called me I said I want I told them to send it to my house and hung up on them. Funny thing I never got the prize.
June 05, 2018
Like others,I joke with my mailman that he never brings me money, only bills for payment. That's life, he says. No stranger is going to give you money. Not a one.
Frank Mayer
June 05, 2018
The US Government and our law makers need to establish and enforce laws that require all games of chance to be under the control of the state or local government and heavily taxed. If people have money to use on games of chance then they have money to contribute more to paying for government programs instead of wasting money. Then we could retain the tax cut we just received without going bankrupt. Additionally, people would know that if the government is not actively endorsing the game then playing the game of chance is illegal and will subject them and the scam artist to serious sanctions and fines.
June 05, 2018
June 05, 2018
I get all kinds of scams by mail and by phone but before I reply I checked with the real industry that offers anything there's a lots of scammers I am so sorry for your mother and her passing. Scammers pray in older people. My sincere sorry about your loving mother I wished I had meet her to help her to not listening to the scammers is so sad. I don't know you but I wish you the best in such a sad situation
June 05, 2018
The one I found super funny is I owe or a supposedly and if I would like to fight it my lawyer and I can come to Washington dc or I can pay the 6,653.00 and settle my debt....if not than my local law agency will come out and arrest me,also cease my home,bank account any all assets that I own. I called it's to make sure I didn't owe and the lady I spoke with said if we are going to arrest you ,then we will do so without any warning.ITS A Major SCAM
June 05, 2018
We have a landline we use to call 800 numbers and local calls. The "do not call list" is worthless. We never answer the landline although we get numerous calls every week. They never leave a message. What a surprise! Many calls are made to our cell phones with unrecognizable numbers. Again, no message is left. My advice to you is if you do pick up the phone NEVER SAY YES even if they use your name.
June 05, 2018
PCH.Com is responsible for the hacking and compromising of thousands of accounts. That there privacy policy and terms and conditions forbid markerters from selling or accessing one's data. But they do this anyway like purging it from data banks,and they sell your data. That is illegal, and they profit off of it. Those are the facts. It's not a game, it is theft, and they are good at it.
June 05, 2018
For sad daughter, PCH is halfway a scam, they do sell you stuff legitly making you think your odds are better of, even though in small print it says "no purchase necessary".
Patty conti
June 05, 2018
The have someone you dont know to tell you your on some list.but have DELIVERY charges.
an angel in heaven
June 05, 2018
DO NOT answer surveys they could be trying to get info from you. Any questionnaires seriously
PCH Loser
June 05, 2018
Receive many e-emails daily.While pushing sweepstakes opportunities they offer hundreds of cheap items for sale.Odds of winning greater than odds of winning Power Ball.
Slam The Scammer
June 05, 2018
FTC need to hold online providers accountable for this type of fraud since they're very to remove from you email address once spamed. (Especially on your cellphone)..
Charlotte C.
June 05, 2018
Its not the company, its the scammers.if you have to pay, then its a scam!
June 05, 2018
My exhusband fell for a scam he sent a check from his parents checking account for $300.00 and the account was drained of all the money.
June 05, 2018
I agree that the Publisher's Clearing House- and all similar types of supposedly "legal" contests should be eliminated. I entered for years,- then encountered countless e-mails, requesting I jump through more hoops- and keep ridiculous. They are just scammers- looking for magazine and other garbage sales.
June 05, 2018
I am one of the victims of the PCH winnings. I lost mega bucks wiring money, money orders, credit cards and gift cards as well as out of the Country phone calls by doing what they asked me to do. I lost my savings which was around $15,000. and never received anything of the free money, a car and a Washer & Dryer. I just wouldn't believe anyone that was telling me not to do this and now I am paying for it. MY ADVICE...PLEASE DO NOT EVER SEND ANY MONEY TO THEM BECAUSE IT IS A SCAM AND YOU'LL NEVER WIN ANYTHING BUT LOSS OF MONEY AND TIME.
D Earley510
June 06, 2018
Publishes Clearing House has told me 5 times they are coning to my house and never shown up I
Bobby J.Don't …
June 06, 2018
Had a call telling me i had won PCH prize. Asked me to put $800.00 on a gift card and send them the information. I started laughing then told them to keep the prize for them self.
Don't use your…
June 06, 2018
Do u think PCH IS A SCAM ?
Fanta 2
June 06, 2018

In reply to by Don't use your…

No. Just a company out to get you to buy all of their products. How ever the real pch never ask people to send them money in less you buy this merchandise. There are scammers out there pretending to be pch. So no they are not scammers, they are just a bunch of unscrupulous sales people who want you to buy their products by telling you that you could win money. But it is more likely that you won't win, than it is that you will
June 26, 2018

In reply to by Don't use your…

They actually have winners, but so many people enter that it is almost impossible to win. I do play the games that I like with no expectations that I will ever win. However, they do send out a lot of e-mails misleading a person to think that the next step is the winner step.
June 06, 2018
Yes Im a 65 year old woman who is DISABLED person and they took 450.dollars from me and said that I had won 5000.00o so don't believe nothing cause it is nothing but a heart ache and you will lose your money for nothing I have been lied to so many times and I would love to have my money back from those people who scammed me
June 06, 2018

Facebook international lottery you 830,000.00 but you need to pay Nigeria and fees and irs and taxes to FedEx and Ups

June 06, 2018
I'm eing harrassed by three guys in the samescam they claim I won 4.5 million plus 5000$ a week for life. But they want me send via wire 200$ for international taxes on the money. lol im not stupid
June 06, 2018
I get calls from the so called IRS that I will be arrested and my SS number will be black listed, if I don't pay up on mistakes I made filing my returns. Nothing but lies lies lies. They hate it when I hang up on this trash!