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How to Recognize Publishers Clearing House (PCH) Scams

People hate to admit it, but it can be so easy to end up being gullible—some even more so than others. People are easily tricked into believing something that isn’t real, such as messages, phone calls, or emails that they won a prize from Publishers Clearing House. 

The thing is, winning a prize from the lottery or sweepstakes isn’t too far-fetched. Sure, you can win a prize, but the chances of winning the grand prize are a million to one. A big name such as the PCH is usually a target for scammers. The simplest reason for this is that people will believe anything, especially from a well-recognized name. 

Whenever PCH “winners” receive a message saying that they won, they usually ask things such as “Is this real?” or “I have to pay 1% in taxes before they can release the prize, what should I do?”

Well, we’re here to tell you this: Don’t do anything. In the first place, it’s most likely a scam, anyway. This article will tell you how you can recognize PCH scams. Read on below to learn more. 

The Publishers Clearing House 

The PCH is a marketing company that endorses magazine subscriptions and merchandise, such as jewelry, books, and other consumer items. Along with these, the chances of winning prizes are also included. 

The prizes from PCH are actually legit, and the rewards could be anywhere from a $1 Amazon gift to $3 million, which is why many people enter their contests in the first place. However, this is also where the disservice comes in because only a tiny fraction of contestants are chosen as winners. 

This is what scammers take advantage of by telling you that you won. They say that they’re affiliated with the PCH, but they’re not. It’s already at a point where it’s hard to tell if it’s a scam or not. 

To recognize a PCH scam, here are some essential tips that you should know: 

1. The PCH Does Not Contact Big Winners 

The easiest way for you to spot a PCH scam is from the message itself. If PCH contacts you saying that you won, it’s a scam because they don’t contact winners in the first place. 

According to the PCH website, prizes of $500 or greater are awarded by certification, express letter, or in-person by their Prize Patrol, depending on how the company pleases. 

2. There’s No Payment Required for a PCH Win

The primary goal of scammers is to get your money for a prize that never comes to you. No sweepstakes company tells contestants to pay something first in exchange for releasing your “prize”—not even PCH. 

If the message saying that you won tells you to do something first before getting your prize, it’s a scam. 

3. The PCH Never Asks for Confidential Information 

PCH will not ask for your personal information. If the message sent to you asks for your address, bank account number, or other confidential information, it’s most likely a scam. This also applies to every other sweepstakes company as well.

If you did win, you’d only have to sign an affidavit to confirm eligibility, but not when entering the contest. If confidential information is being asked for in the beginning, then it’s a scam. This often happens on bogus websites. The website may look natural, but scammers actually set it up. If you use this website, then the information you enter is directly sent to the scammers. 

What Else You Can Do 

1. Verify Any Check You Receive 

The check scam isn’t something that just happens to PCH scams—it can also happen to any other company.  

Giving a check as a prize provides the impression that you’re not paying for the prize because they’re sending the money. This isn’t the case at all, and these checks aren’t legitimate. If you accept it, the amount it costs will be your burden. 

2. Coordinate with PCH 

When you receive a message saying that you won, you shouldn’t celebrate just yet. If you tried the steps above, and you’re still not sure if the win is legit or not, then the best course of action is to get in touch with PCH itself.  

PCH staff will be the ones to verify your prize, and you’ll know from there if you won or not. If you’re doing a direct verification from PCH, you mustn’t contact any phone numbers or email addresses included in your win notice.

It’s also a trick used by scammers—instead of reaching the PCH offices, you’ll be reaching the scammers instead. The best course of action is to go to the PCH website and find their phone numbers and email addresses from there.


The PCH may be generous when giving prizes, but you shouldn’t be easily swayed when you get a win notice from them because it’s most likely a scam. Think about it this way: even if you never actually won anything, at least you’re safe from scams! 

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