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Hang Up On PCH Impersonators

Ari Lazarus — Consumer Education Specialist, FTC
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Have you gotten a call about a prize for a contest you never entered? It might be a scam. We’ve been hearing about scammers calling to say you’ve won a boatload of money from Publishers Clearing House (PCH) through a multi-state lottery. They tell you to call a number and press 1 to learn more. If you don’t, you supposedly won’t get the money. What would you do?

Well, if you press 1, they’ll tell you some version of this fictional story: You won several million dollars (you didn’t), the winnings are at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (they’re not), and you need to pay a fee to get your money (you really, really don’t). No matter what version of the story you hear, it’s a scam.

Here are some things to know to avoid this and other prize scams:

  • Real prizes are free. If there’s a charge, it’s a scam. Anyone who tells you to pay to get your prize – whether it’s for "taxes," "shipping and handling charges," or “processing fees” – is a scammer. Stop and walk away.
  • Scammers urge you to act now. They tell you it’s a limited-time offer and try to rush you. They don’t want you to have time to think about what’s really happening. If anyone tries to hurry you into paying, stop. Remember, that’s something scammers do.
  • Scammers use names that look like the real thing. But no real sweepstakes company will demand money for a prize. To double-check, reach out to the real company. Make sure to use contact information you found yourself – not what the person who called you gave you.

Spot a prize scam? Tell the FTC at