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It’s illegal for a company to tell someone to pay to enter a sweepstakes contest, or that buying something increases their odds of winning. You might not be surprised if a fly-by-night contest promoter deceived people by saying these things. But would you expect a well-known company that’s been running sweepstakes for decades to deceive people?

The FTC says that Publishers Clearing House used language and designs on its website and in its email marketing that tricked consumers, including many older adults, into believing they had to buy things on the PCH website to enter a sweepstakes. Or that doing so would improve their chances of winning a prize.

Customers who did buy something on were in for a few surprises. (And they didn’t involve someone arriving at their door with a giant check and a TV crew). The FTC says

  • PCH hid shipping and handling fees that added an average of 40% to customers' orders.
  • PCH's claims that orders were risk free were bunk. Customers had to pay the shipping costs to return merchandise.

As part of a settlement, PCH agreed to pay $18.5 million to provide refunds, among other things. Not every Publishers Clearing House customer will be eligible for a refund. Learn more about PCH refunds.

If you’re considering participating in a sweepstakes contest, here’s what to know:

  • Real sweepstakes are free and by chance. It’s illegal to ask you to pay or buy something to enter.
  • If you sign up for a contest, the promoters might sell your information to advertisers. If they do, you’re likely to see targeted ads online and get more junk mail, telemarketing calls, and spam email.
  • Scammers try to trick you into believing you won a prize. Never share your financial information or pay fees, taxes, or customs duties to get a prize.

Learn more about recognizing prize and sweepstakes scams. And if you see a prize scam, report it to the FTC at

This blog post was updated on July 6, 2023 with information about refunds.

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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

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.

Mrs Blerth
August 16, 2023

I have never ordered magazines or anything else from them, and have never entered their so-called sweepstakes, but they keep calling and calling and do I get the calls to stop?

Ms Noble
January 08, 2024

In reply to by Mrs Blerth

PCH doesn't call people. That's someone else pretending to be them, and it's a scam. You can block the number. If they're calling a cell phone, search on the phone for how to do this (you can probably report it as spam by simply opening your recent calls, clicking on one of these, then clicking on a three-dot menu). If it's a landline, you can call your provider and ask them to do it. Sorry you've been dealing with this.

Sue H
August 21, 2023

I received a call this week and it was a scam. They asked me for my bank information, of course I didn’t give it out.

Jeremy M Newbert
August 21, 2023

I've seen language on every PCH webpage with items for sale making it abundantly clear a purchase will not increase your chances of winning any prize.

August 24, 2023


August 24, 2023

It is hard to believe that a company as big and wealthy as PCH would use such deceitful business tactics. But, nothing surprises me. Be careful of the scammers saying they are PCH. They have been bothering me for two weeks. Caller says I won 8.5 million and a 2023 Chevy Malibu. But, I needed to buy a $500 American Express Gift Card for taxes and fees in my state. I told them to take it out of the 8.5 mil! These folks can be convincing and you can hear more telemarketing going on in the background. Always remember that if you are poor, like I am, one more day being poor, while you check things out, isn't going to make much difference! I called PCH, they told me that the call was a scam! I never knew that PCH was ordered to pay millions back to consumers. Has anyone ever seen any of their money returned? Unfortunately, you probably never will. But have hope. Reading all of your stories, I will never buy anything from them. Question,. Who are the people on TV holding the big winner checks? Does anyone really ever win these jackpots? I hate wasting my time! Thanks and Good Luck to all who are owed by a this company.

Wilfred Nikoi
September 01, 2023

I can’t beleieve the Howie Guja imposter created an illegal payment method of send bought and withdrawn Bitcoin screenshots through emails to claim the winnings. That man must be sick and must go to jail right now!

September 01, 2023

The problem with PCH is the odds of winning a life changing price are astronomical.....meaning you can play for hours a day for a 100 years and never win big.
It is 7 times harder than winning the grand prize for Power Ball or Mega Millions.
The question is, is it worth one's time? Just do the math....if you play just 2 hours a day for life 40yrs... (730 hrs × 40 =3.34 years of your life).
You be the judge. The only good thing is it does not cost any money.

Teresa Harlan
September 05, 2023

I bought a 3 PC glass ware set from PCH. It arrived broken. My mailbox lady told me to add a note and she would pick it up the next day. I did add a note. Put " Return To Sender. Broken upon Arrival ". On the box and gave it to my postal lady. On the note I asked for replacement or refund. Didn't receive either. Waited. But nothing came. That's why I quit playing your games for so long. Am I ever going to receive one or the other?
Teresa Harlan

Thom Miller
September 18, 2023

I was scammed by pch agents they are ruthless crooks

Ronald Finley
September 19, 2023

I got a message from Danielle Lam saying I won from PCH and had to pay $100.00 to receive it, this was on Facebook and is a fake person.

September 21, 2023

You know what's worse than NOT Winning? Not be Allowed to play at all. * If you used to get Flyers to by things & Entry Forms, and Suddenly they Stopped coming, it's because you have FAILED their Personality Test & you have been Blackballed, meaning that you are no longer allowed to enter. * But they Don't tell you you've been Blackballed, just all of a sudden their Flyers & Entries Stop coming. If you say ANYTHING about how their Contests try to Sell you something in order win, they Drop you without telling you. * You still get to play, but your Entries Don't count. That way they can still make Money off of you by Watching their Ads. * I have Begged several times to get Reinstated, but they just Ignore me. It's Broken my Heart big time knowing that there's NO way that I can Win.

Steven Gonzales
September 26, 2023

I have received a sealed mailing list that supposedly it has a micro number that I do not understand it states I should be receiving an other letter that looks like the one that in my hands after reading the o e I have it states in fine orient to send it back in a timely manner dated so the entry can be complete what I'm I suppose to get done to have entry complete

Willie L Harrison
September 29, 2023

How you doing I don't want to be a burden to nobody I was notified by so-called Danielle Lam on my email message that I was scammed a while back that I had one $3 million dollars in a truck she said it was a scam but really I want this money in president knew about this money I've been through too much for people to do me this way I am tired I lost my wife to congested heart failure six Day November 23rd 2021 6 day before my birthday I lost my son 7 months earlier to suicide he committed and killed himself he was 27 my only baby boy that I had with my wife she had five more children I'm tired of people lying to me getting my hopes up I've been through hell on Earth saw them die in front of me tried to save my wife give her PCR my son he was gone he stabbed himself to death I found him in our new home we had moved in me him and her was three I was in the hospital with her she had fluid on her lungs I'm tired of this world doing me this way $3 million dollars I had one they even showed me the money and the truck I almost sent $100 but she stopped texting me I started sending her emails today she won't accept the emails no more they are not being sent so I feel it was a scam why people do this I have played publishing clearing House games on my phone many times why do things like this happen to people like us like me please understand I'm tired I want to give up somebody need to do something about these people message me back and let me know is it true or not

James Cagle
November 06, 2023

In reply to by Willie L Harrison

Hello sir,
I've won three times playing solitaire. Biggest win $1000. 00. They will send you certified letter win you win.

Niketha Grubbs
October 02, 2023

I believe I am being scammed. They called and said I had to buy an American Express card for $500 and pay them. They said I won 4 million dollars, a Mercedes and $7,000/mth for life. I'm very skeptical about this. The phone number is +19496936892 and the man says his name is John Meyers

E Johnson
October 06, 2023

I too have been connected about 10 yrs an always ordered now I can’t order now the budget is so tight

October 11, 2023

They lie, have dead links, and play upon the elderly. Someone needs to shut them down.

October 16, 2023

I have been entering online for a long no wonder why I don't even hit numbers and have over 1 million tokens........I see some people in their pic's who come home from working all day and get surprised with a check????? They barely have time to enter the contests...While me and many others enter all their contests during the day and don't win anything....I think it is fixed. I order some stuff but I don't anymore,,,,,,I can get free shipping through Walmart and other stores....they tell you it is a great price, by the time they add the shipping and tax the price goes up 40 per cent.....they really could ship free like other places, but they don't. I really don't see many winners!!!

October 16, 2023

I've been playing PCH games and purchasing merchandise from them for years. Once I was playing and I couldn't move forward without purchasing something and when I didn't win I knew that I was being taken advantage of. I took screen shots. I'm so disappointed.

Jane Lividini
October 18, 2023

Why did all my 300,000 rewards disappear down to 300?that doesn’t see fair you erased them now I can’t even have the thought of winning but snd I was in it yo win it

Terry Daye
October 27, 2023

Do they ask for money ? Or do just want you to buy things from them ? My mother is 78 and she been dealing with them for years , but now someone is scamming her out of money.

Logan Shaver
November 02, 2023

Winnings Package
Did I win a Package from Publishers clearing house and would like to confirm it

Edward Snyder
November 03, 2023

Has anyone looked into the PCH apps? PCH gets paid for running fake ads that lead to malware and phishing scams. It is malicious and criminal

James cagle
November 06, 2023

In reply to by Edward Snyder

I've won three times on pch just playing games biggest win 1000.00

November 03, 2023

They got my mom too, Anna Pierson

Brenda Norton
November 06, 2023

I think this is and has happened to me. I’ve had thousands if not millions of points but what good are they!!! Don’t win anything!!!

November 06, 2023

Have received calls informing me I've won and offering me monies.
Didn't sound like an office background from publishers clearing house received 2 phone calls told them if this were legit a certified letter would have been sent.
They're a scam

Marcie Conklin
November 07, 2023

I have been playing for YEARS ; today I received a letter supposedly from you saying I won a prize worth 2million six hundred thousand dollars and the name and phone number for a Joe Johnson at 888-971-6608 and i needed to buy insurance on the prize before i could het my winnings. I needed to pay $4000 in a casier's check, or money order. I KNEW right away it was a scam, because you never request payment to collect winnings!!! I all looked very "official". The letter was from Mr. Miles Freeman, marketing manager for PCH.

Sherry Nickel-Karg
November 07, 2023

If that is true then any money gi ing to PCH I'd like back An stop lying to all your customers.

Jerry Kimmal
November 28, 2023

I was scammed 13,000 dollars by PCH scammers
Telling me i had a prize

Mary. Moronskj
November 28, 2023

I have been buying from publishers clearing house for years , I do find they overcharge. Now I get calls day and night informing me I won money ETC. They call 3am day and night harassing me I recently called back one of their telephone numbers and the person answering said Publishers Clearing house the number was “725-270-6529, “ you should do something about this scam, I’m tired of this when I called your customer service I get someone in Canada ,This is too much harassment .

Jackie Broussard
December 06, 2023

Why y'all scammed people

Towana Moore
December 04, 2023

I had been sending them letters back with money orders since 2008 they always say I’ve won and that I should be seeing tv channels and they truck coming, but first I need to send different amounts. I never seen anything

Teresa Vogt
December 04, 2023

PCH also has redirected onto a SCAM site for GloriousGadgetsForYou. Where instead of paying shipping and Handling fees for the I-Phone you just won..or a I-Pad, MacBook etc, you get to pick your prize of the 3 choices.Then paying what the page asked for you get taken told it's a 9.97$ but next page has you paying 2.00$ actually they try scamming you for 141.00$. Pretty mixed up misdirection and all the time you won nothing were taken for a outrageous fee and get nothing!!
PCH is rotten to the CORE !

December 04, 2023

I’ve been paying my bills to Publishers Clearing House when they’ve sent me a statement I just received a huge bill that zi do not owe What is my recourse now?

Tina Hill
December 07, 2023

I have been getting scammed. I have phone numbers and such if you want them. They hacked my phone. All my pch doc are gone. Please help. Gage Oklahoma. My town and state if you need to call me you got me on record

Susan Murry
December 11, 2023

I have always paid for the items I have bought from PCH. I got a bill from them saying I owed over $800.00 which I do no owe What can I do about this?

Kevin Adams
December 11, 2023

But I've been entering probably close to 3,000 times on Wednesdays and Publishers Clearing House and the other ones I blocked because I just wanted to concentrate on two of them that I knew or I thought I've I've known of them and they have been very they've been very encouraging to me and understanding about my my phone and internet problems and they Mark me down there to an excellent play or so hey I just wanted to let you know thank you very much for keeping point guard for us and then I will be checking you guys out all the time I appreciate your time and effort enjoy I hope I win

Deborah Peterson
December 12, 2023

I have been getting scammed by Publishers Clearing House for over a year and a half. I have bought lots of gadgets from them because I thought it would help me to win millions of dollars. They recently sent me a list of people in Tennessee who have won money from PCH. I googled each one. Most of them won money from the Power Ball. None of them won money from Publishers Clearing House. I finally realized that I am over paying for all of these gadgets, pillow cases, dish drainers, pet combs, men's wallets, men's socks, jar grippers, shower curtains, etc. etc. because I am paying a lot of money for shipping!! I could have gone to Walmart and bought most of the stuff a lot cheaper. Well I'm done ordering gadgets from Publishers Clearing House. I may be an old lady but they are not gonna fool me any longer.

Daniel Romo
December 14, 2023

I sent some information on this check that was not cashed, because at the there was a lot of scam going on . If you want me to sent you a copy of the letter and check let me

Jack stoops
December 21, 2023

Never won anything, even was sent the wrong product

Sherry olmedo
January 11, 2024

On fb I commented on a winners page and got a call back number i called and it’s a scam #is 1888-861-0139 wanting information you all ready have please put out an ad reminding about these scams it Xmas for us to many people have it to hard for them to be doing this now thank you and merry Xmas everyone

Kathy Matiskie
December 27, 2023

I’ve never been more disappointed and lied to. Why would PCH want to set someone up with excitement and life-changing dreams - only to laugh in my face?!!!😞

Robin Ragan Conklin
December 27, 2023

I can’t find the last two Sweepstake’s winners. December 2023 was for $5 Million. Early in the year pch said they number drawn was not claimed in their emails or mailed sweepstakes. If a number is not claimed, shouldn’t pch keep picking numbers until a winner is drawn?

Richard Carpenter
January 02, 2024

I received a text about winning a PCH million dollars ..seems I being scamed I need to pay them $500.00 to a UPS driver that
$$$ tonight by 11;00 is this a real thing

Michael Husslein
January 02, 2024

I would have you check out publishers clearly. House. I've been playing now 52 years going on 53 years. How much is able Vietnam Veteran? I started playing back in 1972 when I come home from Vietnam. Send in my lotteries in by mail . In 2007 I learned to work the internet and been playing. Ever since 1819 hours a day non-stop? They tell me don't give up. I know that I should have once a big one out of $500 1 like I did get when I first started. They tell me. He just gotta keep entering after 52 years. I'm gonna be 72 years old. I was 20s and my 20s when I started. I think this should be checked out and find out. How come I haven't won after fifty two years

William Zacher…
January 02, 2024

Lot of people personating PCH
To scam people like me con artist say there Danielle lamm and David sayer one claim to be the man saying I won large amount of money in had to tax fee delivery fees.

CarolLee Reeder
January 02, 2024


Roger Biver
January 12, 2024

A PCH scammer told me I $9.5 million plus $5k a week for life, plus a 2024 Ford F150. He told me I needed to register and pay $2750.00 to get my prize. I said give me a puff of that before you throw it away. Good day scammer.