A reader: I just got a call from Publishers Clearing House. They told me I have won $1,000 per week for life. I’m only 23 years old so I could be set for life. They want me to wire them $289 to process the paperwork. Should I send the money?
Action Line: No, never and absolutely not. Although Publishers Clearing House (PCH) really does award prizes, this is not them. First, the real offer is $1,000 a day (not per week) for life.
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Scammers often pretend to be PCH people so that they can trick you into sending them money. The reason that it works is that most are familiar with the PCH name. They will call you and tell you that you have won a prize and that you need to pay so-called fees to get your money.
If you ever have to pay money to receive your prize, it is a scam. They will ask you to send the money through Western Union, MoneyGram or by using prepaid gift cards. The reason they ask for this form of payment is because it is very difficult to trace the money, nearly impossible. There is one thing you can count on, if you send them money, you will not get it back.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) advised that if you think you have won a prize, here are a few things to know:
▪ Publishers Clearing House will never ask you to pay a fee to collect a prize. In fact, no legit prize promoter will ever charge you to win.
▪ If anyone calls asking you to pay for a prize, hang up and report it to the FTC, www.ftc.gov/complaint
▪ Never send money to collect a prize. It’s a scam.
And here’s another insider tip: Publisher's Clearing House doesn’t call ahead to say you’ve won.
You can also report it to bbb.org/scamtracker. Also, PCH also has their own consumer tips. Read more at info.pch.com/category/fraud/. Again PCH will tell you that you NEVER have to pay to win a prize. They don’t call you and they do notify you in advance of any prize award. PCH advises if you are ever contacted by someone claiming to represent PCH, or claiming to be one of their employees, and asked to send or wire money (for any reason whatsoever, including taxes); or send a pre-paid gift card or Green Dot Moneypak card in order to claim a sweepstakes prize – DON’T! It’s a SCAM.
If you are sent a check, told it’s a partial prize award, and asked to cash it and send a portion back to claim the full prize award, DON’T. The check is fake, but the SCAM is real!
If you or anyone you know sent money, you should immediately report it to the company you used to send the money, such as Western Union, MoneyGram or any repair or gift card company.
Action Line is written by Blair Looney, president and CEO for the Better Business Bureau serving Central California. Send your consumer concerns, questions and problems to Action Line at the Better Business Bureau, 2600 W. Shaw Lane, Fresno, CA 93711 or email@example.com.