A Fort Walton Beach resident is out nearly $700 dollars after she responded to a phone caller who claimed she had just won a million dollars from Publishers Clearing House.
The 57-year old victim got a call on her cell phone September 8th with no caller i.d. number. The caller congratulated the woman, saying she would be getting $5000 a week from Publisher’s Clearing House, but first needed to wire money for taxes on the prize. The woman, who had won $10 in the past from PCH, sent nearly $700 in two payments through a Western Union money transfer.
Family members learned of the incident and contacted the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office. Publisher’s Clearing House says winners are never notified via phone or social media, and never asked to pay to claim a prize.
Entering sweepstakes and giveaways is fun, exciting and enjoyable. But please keep in mind these valuable tips and warning signs to help you know the difference between a legitimate sweepstakes offer and a scam.
Recognizing the difference between legitimate sweepstakes and other types of offers that may not be legitimate will help you protect yourself and your family.
Tip 1: Beware of Fake Check Scams
If you receive a check claiming to be from a legitimate sweepstakes and are asked to cash it and wire or send a portion back — STOP — you are the victim of a scam contact. The check is not real! Consumers should always remember that at Publishers Clearing House no payment or fee is ever necessary to enter or claim a prize.
Tip 2: Be Suspicious of Callers Claiming You’ve Won – But Ask You to Send Money
If you receive a telephone call from someone claiming you have won a sweepstakes prize but are asked to send money to claim it — STOP — you have not heard from a legitimate sweepstakes company. At Publishers Clearing House we do not notify our contest winners by phone.
Tip 3: Be Wary of E-mails Claiming You’ve Won – and Asking You to Send Money
If you receive an e-mail notifying you that you have won a major sweepstakes prize, but are asked to provide personal financial information, or send money to claim the prize — STOP -– you have most likely been contacted by a fraudulent sweepstakes scam operator. At Publishers Clearing House we do not notify major prize winners by e-mail.
Tip 4: Never Give Your Credit Card Number to Collect a Prize
If you are asked to provide your credit card number or provide your financial bank account information in order to claim a sweepstakes prize — STOP. Fraudulent scam artists often request this information and then go on a spending spree with your credit card; or wipe out your bank account.
Tip 5: Do Not Send Money to Claim a Sweepstakes Prize
If you are asked to send money to pre-pay taxes, pay a legal fee, pay a border fee, or pay any kind of fee to claim a sweepstakes prize — STOP — you have not heard from a legitimate sweepstakes company. Whether contacted by mail, phone or e-mail, remember: no legitimate sweepstakes company will ever ask you to pay or send money to claim a prize. It’s prohibited and unlawful!
Tip 6: Always Play Safely
At PCH we include a Sweeps Facts insert in every promotional offer we send. Be sure to read the Sweeps Facts, as well as our Official Rules. They are there to provide you with all the information you will need to play safely! Don’t fall for ‘lookalike’ mailings that try to mislead consumers by imitating legitimate sweepstakes.
Tip 7: If an Offer Sounds too Good to be True, Think Twice — It Usually is!
The only sweepstakes rule you need to know is that No Purchase is Necessary and the winning is always free!
Tip 8: Contact PCH: Know the Company Conducting the Sweepstakes
PCH provides customers with assistance and can answer any sweepstakes questions you may have. If you wish to report a scam contact to us, you may do so by clicking here to fill out and complete a scam incident report.
Tip 9: If You Believe You’ve Been the Victim of a Fraud Contact…
If you believe you have been contacted by a scam we recommend that you contact your local consumer protection officials and file a complaint with the National Fraud Information Center at www.fraud.org. Your complaint may help others and will be useful to law enforcement in stopping the scams.