Skip to Content

Watch Out for Publishers Clearing House Scams

Watch Out for Publishers Clearing House Scams

Have you seen those commercials with average people being surprised with by the Prize Patrol with crazy huge sweepstakes winnings?  Have you ever wondered if Publishers Clearing House scams are out there?  We’ll cover ways to avoid falling for Publishers Clearing House scams!


What is the Publishers Clearing House?

The reason so many Publishers Clearing House scams can be successful is because the Publishers Clearing House has run one of the most well-known sweepstakes programs ever.  This means that potential victims of Publishers Clearing House scams often recognize the name and assume the winning claims are legitimate!

The Publishers Clearing House is actually a marketing company that was founded in 1953 selling magazine subscriptions.  Their sweepstakes program gained fame in 1987 with the start of the Prize Patrol that advertised everyday Americans being surprised at their doorstep with balloons and a giant cardboard check in their name!  They have now awarded over $527 million in prizes!

The Publishers Clearing House is also known for their charitable giving – donating over $1 million to programs like the ASPCA, Saint Jude’s Research Hospital, and more!

What kind of prizes are offered by the Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes?

The prizes offered by the Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes range from $1 Amazon gift cards to $10 million.  They are also well known for their “Win $5,000 a Week for Life” prize advertisements.  They are widely advertised, which also makes for easier scam targets.


How do I spot Publishers Clearing House scams?

Many Publishers Clearing House scams start with a legitimate sounding phone call, email, or even a check in the mail!

The Publishers Clearing House only uses their Prize Patrol to notify major award winners.  They will never use phone calls or send a major prize check in the mail.

Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes are free to enter, require no purchases, and require no payments or fees to receive prizes.

You know it is not a legitimate Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes if you are contacted by phone, instructed to send money to claim your prize, or asked for confidential information about your identification, banking or credit card.

How do the Publishers Clearing House scams work?

Usually scammers attempt to get funds by asking you to pay “fees” or by convincing you to cash a fake check that pulls money from your account.

Fees to claim

Most Publishers Clearing House scams work by convincing victims that they have won a large prize but must pay a fee to claim it.  These Publishers Clearing House scams operate by claiming there are legal fees, processing fees, handling fees, card loading fees, border fees, taxes, etc.  The Publishers Clearing House will never ask you to pay fees to claim your prize!

Some Publishers Clearing House scams are using telephone calls to inform of winnings and claiming they need your credit card number or bank account information in order to send your prize.


A more modern spin is Publishers Clearing House scams involving fake Facebook pages or social media accounts!  They use the same process of asking you to pay fees to claim your prize, except they send you messages via social media.

If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is!

Fake check

Some scammers will even send a fake check for you to cash and wire to them to them for “fees”.  They advertise that when they receive the fees portion, they will release your larger prize. 

The catch is that these Publishers Clearing House scams use counterfeit or stolen checks, but when you wire the “fees” to them (usually via Western Union or Money Gram), those come out of your account that you deposited the funds to.  Your bank will then typically discover the check is not valid and you may be charged penalties and possibly even face legal issues for a felony deposit of a fraudulent check.  Unfortunately, by then the scammers have their funds and are long gone.

Publishers Clearing House scams victim

How to avoid Publishers Clearing House scams

You should be on guard to begin with if you have not entered a sweepstakes.  You should also never use the contact information provided on the winning claim notification – as these phone numbers and emails often belong to people running the Publishers Clearing House scams.

We’ve covered a few ways that scammers might try to get money from you – we’ll also cover ways you can confirm if a winning notification is legitimate or not!  Publishers Clearing House scams won’t work if you know which ones are fake!

Phone calls

If you’ve received a phone call claiming that you’ve won any prize with the Publishers Clearing House; you know it’s fake.  The Publishers Clearing House does not notify winners via phone.  You can add your number to the national do-not-call registry and report if you receive unsolicited calls from numbers that are part of Publishers Clearing House scams.



Publishers Clearing House does occasionally use email to notify winners of smaller prizes.  They will never ask for confidential or banking information via email.  They will never request any kind of fee to claim the prize.  Often scam emails will come from a Hotmail or Yahoo account and contain typos and grammar errors.  These should be red flags for any kind of prize claim!

Social media

Legitimate winning notifications are also never sent via Facebook and any other social media platforms!  Pages that are part of Publishers Clearing House scams often look like the real deal: logos and colors and actual employee names are easy to duplicate.  For information from legitimate Publishers Clearing House social media profiles – ensure they have the verified symbol next to their name.

Fraudulent check

The IRS has a $600 threshold for reporting of winnings.  This means that the Publishers Clearing House will never send you a check for over $600 without having you sign an affidavit regarding your identity.  If you receive a check for over $600 in the mail without having received an affidavit, the check is very likely part of the Publishers Clearing House scams.

A simple way to confirm if a check is legitimate is to verify the information on it.  Often Publishers Clearing House scams use fraudulent checks with mismatched banking and routing information.  This causes it to be flagged and take longer to go through the system – giving them more time to get away with their scam.  If the routing number does not match the bank name, it’s a huge red flag!

How to contact the Publishers Clearing House directly

The Publishers Clearing House asks people to contact them directly if they wish to confirm any winnings.  They also ask people to contact them if they feel that they have been a potential victim of Publishers Clearing House scams.

You may contact them at 1-800-459-4724 Monday through Friday 8:30am – 11pm, and Saturday 8:30am – 5pm eastern (closed Sundays and holidays).  They are also available via live chat and email contact at their Publishers Clearing House website.

Please report any scams at their Publishers Clearing House scams site.

We have more resources for you in how to avoid common scams!

It seems like scammers are targeting in new ways every day!  We have links to help you avoid becoming a victim of a scam!

We’d also love to help you find ways to save money, access discounts, and get free stuff – our Low Income Relief Youtube channel has loads of resources for you!

Kevin Hutchinson

Sunday 30th of July 2023

Hi, is Patrick Thomas a Legitimate person who works with PCH ?

Catherine Marucci

Sunday 30th of July 2023

Hi Kevin. You will need to contact the Publishers Clearing House directly to confirm if he is or not.

Dorie Woodward

Thursday 19th of January 2023

Also phone number was 1-516-430-3606 telling me from Jericho ny then phone shows up Wantaghiny New York

Dorie Woodward

Thursday 19th of January 2023

They scammers first pretending to be a lawyer Tim and the somebody this time pretending to be Todd sloan tell me I won big prize 2,800,000.00 then wanted my bank information

Anna Harris

Thursday 3rd of November 2022

I have won more prizes (fake) than I can count. It is so upsetting because my Dad entered all the time til he died and I have entered for over 25 years and nothing but false hope. The thing is I want the money to help others also. My husband and I have taken people in and helped them for 40 years and we could use the money too for repairs on our home that doing that takes on a home. These scammers should be caught and punished but no one is doing anything! So they keep doing it. I pray their eyes are opened to how much hurt they cause. God Bless and Good luck PCH family.

Rayford Faircloth

Tuesday 18th of October 2022

Had call today from 631-953-2135 claiming to be PCH and etc. I have a recording of the voicemail.