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During these difficult economic times, it is easy to imagine our financial problems disappearing by winning a big prize. Who wouldn’t like to win a million dollars, a new car, or a vacation home? But if you get a call from someone saying, “You’ve won,” don’t believe the hype.

Here’s how it works. You get a call from someone who says they’re from Publishers Clearing House or some other well-known organization. They say, “Congratulations, you’ve won a million dollars, a Mercedes-Benz, and seven thousand dollars a week for life!” or some other amazing sounding prizes. Then they ask you to pay a “processing fee,” "taxes," or "shipping and handling charges," to claim your prize.

The scammers are trying to push you into a heightened emotional state, to knock you off balance just long enough to steal your money and personal information.

The fact is, Publishers Clearing House never notifies winners in advance. And anyone who says, “You’ve won. Now pay us,” is always scammer. Period.

Consider these tips to avoid this scam:

  • Legitimate sweepstakes don’t make you pay a fee to get your prize. That includes paying "taxes," "shipping and handling charges," or “processing fees.” There’s also no reason to give someone your checking account or credit card number in response to a sweepstakes promotion.
  • Don’t send money transfers or gift cards, or give personal information. Sending money transfers or gift cards (or providing the gift card numbers) is like sending cash: once the money’s gone, you can’t trace it or get it back. The same goes for sending money by mail or using a money order. 
  • Don’t trust your caller ID. Scammers can make any name or number show up on your caller ID. They might use an official-sounding name like Publishers Clearing House or Reader’s Digest.

Scammers don’t just scam one person. Tell your friends and family about the scam so they can avoid it. Then report it to the FTC:


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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.
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  • 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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August 13, 2020
Prime video scam- iPhone for 779.00 has been charged to your account! Scam I've gotten the call twice and reported it to FBI
August 13, 2020
A year ago last March I made a complaint with the FTC about NPD Group (VIP Voice Surveys). They claimed I had won $5,000.00 but never contacted me. I tried contacting them several times, but whenJanet Hall Director, Member Services got back to me "I was told my prize had been given to alternative winner because I did not contact them in time. Publishers Clearing House emails me everyday and claims I am a winner of $7,000.00 a week but I have to purchase from their store to claim. When in their promo they claim no purchase nessacary.
March 22, 2022

In reply to by AuzzieLady

You never would have to make any purchases to claim a prize and purchasing will not increase your chances of winning.

Don'DangItt us…
August 13, 2020
I got an email stating that I had ordered something from Norton for $279.89 which I hadn’t.They said that I had been hacked but we’re going to replace the money.They went into my Bank but I couldn’t sign in and they said that he would call back in about 30 minutes but he never called me back.I think that all he wanted was my information which he didn’t get very much of it.He sounded like somebody from India or close to there.But the phone number that came up on my phone said it was somewhere in California.Don’t call them they’ll ask for remote usage on your computer and who knows what else they’ve put on your computer without you knowing it.Just be careful and stay safe.
August 12, 2020
I'm tired of the scammers convincing me that I've been approved for a loan and that Im just verifying my address and needing my bank account and routing numbers to make a direct deposit for the amount of the loan, etc.. than they automatically send you to another "LENDING"company, and that one takes all the same info and sends u to another "LENDER "..... and you never to get directed to a real "LOAN" company and for every Lender you fill out all your personal information, your also giving permission for telemarketers to continually call and text your phone and advertisers sending u mail....theres supposed to be a law against false advertising...
August 13, 2020
Publishers ClearingHouse has long been tapped as scammers from years back. Amazing those characters haven't been put out of business yet. Even more amazing is how so many people still fall for the elaborate con and without doing any research or vetting of any kind first before committing themselves.
August 14, 2020
I recently received 2 emails each with the name of a friend stating they were away from home and requested that I purchase an eBay or iTunes gift card for a niece/nephew birthday that they had forgotten. Obviously a scam but the emails had a legitimate address.
August 17, 2020
My step mom has dementia. My father just had open heart surgery. I have been here two weeks. 3 and 4 times a day they call her. They want her to pay the IRS Then they will release her winnings. Reported and registered do not call list.
August 20, 2020
My Mom got a call from Publisher Clearing House and they wanted her to buy 2 prepaid credit cards for $500.00 a piece and wanted her to transfer $1,800.00 for an affidavit stamp to Chase Bank, then they will deliver the check for 1.5 million dollars. She called me and while she kept them on the phone, I called the cops and got in touch with the right person to see if it was a scam.
August 24, 2020
walmart survey by golden research scam. Looks like a legit walmart survey. Answer some questions then pick a gift. Then give all your info and pay shipping for that gift. Watch out.
Willie Mae Alen
September 12, 2020
I am in a financial condition..... It was a pleasure to have some one to tell me I won... I have lost a lot of money.... I just gave a gift card to someone at that is a scam - The man that just called me David Anderson code #145dw Publishers Clearinf House-Check the vanilla gift card #4116 1006 16858774 in the amount of $100.00. there was also another Man that I gave $185.00..I think his last name was Welder .. I misplaced the papers. but the money was given in a money gram. the overall total was $285.00.... please research. I've been in PCH since 1999.
December 30, 2020
I got a call from someone today claiming to be from Publishers Clearinghouse telling me I won 5.5 million dollars, $10,000.00 a week and a brand new Mercedes with the AMG package. TO claim the prize I was told to go to a Walgreens and purchase a $500.00 gift card, a one vanilla gift card. The caller also told me not to tell Walgreens why I was buying it and to tell them it was for personal use. When I told the caller I could not go to Walgreens right then he asked why not and told me I needed to go and purchase the card now. The call had several delays and sounded like an international call. The caller ID number was 202.856.7945 although the caller likely spoofed that number. This guy was a liar without a conscience!!! DO NOT BELEIVE THESE PEOPLE!!!!
March 19, 2021
Well, now there's a prize scam. I get a call from 3234730677. He says I have a package from UPS coming with my million dollar prize. I told him, if true, haha, just send it & stop calling. Today, I get a call from the same number saying she's investigating a prize scam. The company name she gave was American Claims Investigation. All she needs is to verify my info. When I asked her for a callback number, she gave me an 888number, which turned out to be Publishers Clearing House. They NEVER call you. Watch out, they're back at it.
June 07, 2021
I’ve received this stuff for years and was stupid back In those days I would get so excited that I won something but it was actually nothing I would cry a lot cause I could really use the money I supposed have won thank you for listening
Don't use your…
August 19, 2021
Just got a call from New York wanted me to send Five hundred dollar gift card to them .
August 31, 2021
Received a call this AM...said I won Publisher’s Clearing House $15,000,000!!! Proceeded to give me name, instructing me to do an envelope with $15 cash and take to post office..I figured played along to get info....
Horace Bryant
May 26, 2022

I found out I was involved in a scam from my bank I was told I won 1.7 million dollars a Mercedes Benz and 5000 for 52 weeks
. they would pay off one of my credit card so I can have the money to open check account with another bank they paid the credit card off then asked me to write 2 separate check for,4500 and deposit in my original account and sign the money to myself in order to get my winnings well it was a scam they misrepresented publishing clearing house