By Robb Hicken/ BBB’s chief storyteller
For Blackfoot resident Travis Moffat, paying $500 for a tax stamp to claim his million dollar prize was a small price to pay.
“I’d never heard of a P14 Stamp Tax,” Moffat says. “I just figured it was something that you had to get to get the sweepstakes.”
Digging deep into his pocket, he only came up with $495. He loaded it on a Green Dot Card, and sent the information off to his case worker, Billy McGee, at the IRS.
And the wait for information began. An entire day passed. Then, two days. No paperwork, no check and no contact.
“So, I called the number they gave me, and the guy started telling me how they’d had a problem with their equipment, and they’d get the stuff over to me,” Moffat says.
He realized he was caught in a scheme, and called BBB.
Publishers Clearing House will never call to announce a winner. The company policy clearly states they will show up on the sweepstake winner’s door step with check in hand. There are no added fees, taxes are between the winner, IRS and state where he/she lives.
This is the latest tactic by scammers in the Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes. The P14 Stamp is a tax-free stamp issued in the United Kingdom. It has no relevance to United States. The fact they ask winners to buy a $500 P14 Stamp is because they are in a UK providence – Jamaica.
Here is a nine-step test:
Tip 1: Beware of Fake Check Scams
If you are asked to cash a check and send money — STOP. No payment or fee is ever necessary to enter or claim a prize from Publishers Clearing House.
Tip 2: Be Suspicious of Callers Claiming You’ve Won – But Ask You to Send Money
If you are asked to send money — STOP. At Publishers Clearing House does not tell teh 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 – STOP. At Publishers Clearing House does not tell major prize winners by e-mail.
Tip 4: Never Give Your Credit Card Number to Collect a Prize
If you are asked to give your credit card or bank account number — STOP. Fraudulent scam artists will 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 – STOP.
Tip 6: Always Play Safely
If you question the authenticity of a win – STOP. PCH includes a Sweeps Facts insert in every promotional offer sent.
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 — STOP!
Tip 8: Contact PCH: Know the Company Conducting the Sweepstakes
If you don’t know the sweepstake company — STOP! Most sweepstake companies provides customers with help and can answer any sweepstakes questions.
Tip 9: If You Believe You’ve Been the Victim of a Fraud Contact…
If you believe you have been contacted by a scam – STOP. Call BBB, Attorney General’s consumer protection and file a complaint with the National Fraud Information Center at www.fraud.org.
If you wish to report a scam contact or you simply want to reach Publishers Clearing House, call toll-free: 1-800-392-4190. Or write to: Publishers Clearing House, 101 Winners Circle, Port Washington, NY 11050.