By Robb Hicken/ BBB’s chief storyteller
Get out your wallet …. “You’ve won the Publisher’s Clearing House Sweepstakes!”
Sounds great, right? No, wait, it’s a scam Publisher’s Clearing House Sweepstakes’ call.
The scam goes as follows: Global International representatives are calling residents and telling the person who answers the phone that he/she has won a prize from PCH. But first, the person must pay a fee to retrieve the money they have allegedly won. (Amounts have varied from $150 to $500.)
Better Business Bureau serving the Snake River Region warns this is a scam; one of several using the Publisher’s Clearing House name.
Publishers Clearing House awards its prizes in a personal visit (depending on the value) to the winners’ homes and does not charge winners to collect their prize. If you’ve won the PCH sweepstakes, you don’t have to pay. Never pay any money to collect supposed sweepstakes winnings. And, this includes paying taxes upfront before receiving your prize! Your federal tax filing is due April 15! Federal law dictates that no money can be paid to win a prize.
Do the following:
Record the call if you can, or take notes and then contact the BBB– Write down the phone number. Then, contact BBB at email@example.com or (208)342.4649.
You must enter to win. Remember lottery tickets must be purchased and sweepstakes must be entered to win. Sweepstakes usually involve application paperwork that you have personally completed and government grants have a thorough application process as well.
Never pay any money to collect supposed sweepstakes winnings. If you have to pay to collect your winnings, you’re not winning. Legitimate sweepstakes don’t require you to pay “insurance,” “taxes” or “shipping and handling charges” to collect your prize.
Never wire money. Scammers pressure people to wire money through commercial money transfer companies because wiring money is the same as sending cash. When the money’s gone, there’s very little chance of recovery. Likewise, resist any push from the caller to send a check or money order by overnight delivery or courier. Con artists recommend these services so they can get their hands on your money before you realize you’ve been cheated.
Phone numbers can deceive. Internet technology allows con artists to disguise their area code so it looks like they’re calling from your local area. But they could be calling from anywhere in the world.
Watch the grammar. If the scam comes in writing – scam letters, faxes or emails are often full of grammatical and spelling errors.
Ask Questions: If the caller has a difficult time answering any “off script” questions, this is a red flag that it’s not legitimate.
Never give personal information. Scammers can be very charming and charismatic and will lure or pressure for personal information.
Foreign lotteries are illegal. Beware of lottery applications or win announcements coming via telephone or mail from outside the country. Foreign lotteries violate federal law and participating in any way is illegal. The only legal lotteries in the United States are state-run.