It’s been almost a year since we wrote about the Publishers Clearing House scam – and this is one trick call that isn’t slowing down. Emma Fletcher at the FTC is reporting that con artists are still counting on your dreams of the big sweepstakes check to collect cash of their own.
Here’s how it starts: You get a call or letter saying you’ve “won” the Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes. Exciting, right? However, to collect your prize the caller says you’ll need to pay for the fees and taxes. They’ll ask you to send the money via Western Union or MoneyGram, or by reloadable gift card. While winners are typically responsible for the taxes associated with their prizes, they’re never asked to pay using gift cards. Scammers prefer these methods because they’re nearly impossible to trace – and very rarely refundable. By posing as the Publishers Clearing House, scammers are using a trusted name to rip off unsuspecting consumers.
If you think you’ve won a prize, here’s what you need to know:
- You should never be asked to send money to collect a legitimate prize. If you have to pay to win, it’s a scam.
- Never deposit any check sent to you and send back money, even if the funds appear in your account. Scammers will make you pay big time by letting the check bounce, leaving you responsible to pay those funds out of pocket.
- If you get a call asking you to pay for a prize, hang up! Report the call and number to the FTC.
While we all dream of that big check and balloons on our front porch, Publishers Clearing House confirmed that it will never ask you to pay a fee to collect a prize. If you’d like to know more about their policies against fraud, check out the Publishers Clearing House fraud protection page.