Tag Archives: Publishers Clearing House

Sweepstakes scams continue to plague Snake River Region

By Robb Hicken/ BBB’s chief storyteller

With her grandson in a hospital back east, Idaho Falls resident Carol Jones says she mistakenly picked up the phone thinking it was going to be an update when she saw the 202- prefix.

The caller said he was with Lloyd’s of America and needed to discuss “her $350,000 winnings.”

“The minute I heard him say I would need to get a $250 Green Dot card, I knew it was a scam caller,” Jones says. She ended the call.

Sweepstakes/lottery scams use Lloyd’s or other insurance companies’ names to add credibility to the scam.The purpose of the scam is to steal the money sent for the supposed insurance premium.

Perpetrators of sweepstakes/lottery scams may also claim to be calling from actual or fictitious government departments or agencies trying to lend further credibility to their scam.Calls from pseudo-Publisher’s Clearing House to a woman from Shelley, an American Sweepstakes in Blackfoot, a Spain Lottery winner in Caldwell, and a US Consumer Protection Bureau prize have been taken at Better Business Bureau.

Scammers pretend to be official prize coordinators to get you to send them money. They might promise lottery winnings if you pay “taxes” or other fees, or they might threaten you with arrest or a lawsuit if you don’t pay a supposed debt. Regardless of their tactics, their goal is the same: to get you to send them money.

Anyone taking a call should not send money or talk to them. Lloyd’s and/or other insurance companies would never contact any person directly asking them to pay a premium to collect any ‘alleged’ winnings.

Here are tips to avoid them:

You can’t win a contest you didn’t enter: You need to buy a ticket or complete an application to participate in a contest or lottery. Be very careful if you’ve been selected as a winner for a contest you never entered.

Verify — but not by using a source scammers gave you. Check if an offer is real, but don’t call the phone number in the email or website you suspect may be a scam. If it is a con, chances are the person on the other line will be involved too.

Don’t pay up to claim your prize: You should never have to pay money or buy products in order to receive a prize. Be especially wary of wiring money or using a prepaid debit card.

The only legal lotteries in the United States are the official state-run lotteries. Foreign lotteries are illegal.

If you get a call from a government imposter, file a complaint at ftc.gov/complaint, with the BBB, 208-342- or rhicken@boise.bbb.org. Be sure to include:

  • date and time of the call
  • name of the government agency the imposter used
  • what they tell you, including the amount of money and the payment method they ask for
  • phone number of the caller (Scammers may use technology to create a fake number or spoof a real one, but law enforcement agents may be able to track that number to identify the caller any other details from the call.)

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Publisher’s Clearing House calls flood Snake River Region; Burley woman avoids scam

A Burley woman is a recent target of a scam that promised $250,000 through the Publishers Clearing House.

“Skepticism is probably the best response,” Todd Dvorak, communications director at the Idaho Attorney General’s office, told the Times-News. “There are 101 varieties of scams out there. We haven’t had any other reports yet about this type of thing, but it’s never a good idea to send money or personal information.”

Scammers pretending to be Publishers Clearing House, contacted Burley resident Donna Weech telling her they needed her to pay attorney fees. Once paid the winnings would be released to her. They asked her to purchase a Green Dot Money Pak card for $205, telling her a PCH representative would be by to pick up the card after  a second phone call. Fortunately, Weech’s daughter-in-law was available to talk her into not buying the card.

Better Business Bureau has received phone calls almost daily since the beginning of March when PCH sends out its spring mailing, and the scammers know this and immediately beginning calling, trying to convince Snake River Region residents they are winners.  Last year, BBB reported on a similar incident. You can always check at bbb.org or call 800-218-1001 if you’re suspicious.

Publishers Clearing House officials state they will never call on the phone announcing winners, and will never ask for fees. There is “no purchase necessary” to enter the PCH Sweepstakes.

Tips to identify a fake PCH sweepstakes are found at pch.com.

  • Prize winners will not call by phone or by regular mail. Consumers who win over $10,000 will be awarded in person by the PCH Prize Patrol, with no advance notification. Those who win less than $10,000 will receive an affidavit via certified mail. Additionally, PCH does send out post cards and mailings promoting their services and surveys.
  • At the real Publishers Clearing House, the winning is always free. Do not send or wire any money to collect the prize. Don’t trust anyone requesting payment for “taxes,” “custom fees,” “border security” or other purported reasons.
  • If suspicious of a fraudulent call, letter, e-mail or check from someone claiming to be from Publishers Clearing House, contact the real PCH at 1-800-645-9242 then press 5.

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PCH Sweepstakes calls plague Snake River Region residents

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 info@boise.bbb.org 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.

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