bbbFrom the Better Business Bureau of East Texas

Tyler, TX – The Better Business Bureau has received a spike in calls about a Publishers Clearing House (PCH)  scam which is seeing a resurgence across the country this summer. BBB urges people to verify the legitimacy of any supposed winnings, and reminds consumers never to pay in order to receive prize winnings.

Official looking letters displaying the PCH logo are sent to potential victims claiming the recipient has won millions of dollars in prizes. Recipients are instructed to immediately contact a PCH claim agent for further instructions on how to receive their winnings. In most cases, recipients are asked to cash a check which was sent to them, then and wire at least part of the funds back to the sender. Other fake PCH offers come by phone, email, or social media and claim funds are needed in advance to pay for insurance before winnings can be received. One local victim reported she was instructed to mail $10,000 in money orders to an address in Connecticut, then wire money to Jamaica. BBB and local authorities are working together to investigate those involved in perpetrating this scam.

"Any letter or email from a lottery or sweepstakes that asks you to pay taxes, fees, shipping or insurance to claim your prize is a scam",” said Mechele Agbayani Mills, President and CEO of BBB Central East Texas. “Also keep in mind that if you deposit a bogus check or money order into your account, you could be held responsible for any money you spend or send to anyone else once your financial institution confirms that the check or money order is counterfeit.”

Your BBB offers the following tips for sweepstakes and lottery scams:

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 give 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 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. 

It is illegal to use the mail or telephone to play lotteries across borders. If you receive an e-mail, letter or phone call informing you that you have won a lottery, it is highly probable, it's a scam.

Publishers Clearing House (PCH) reports that they do not call anyone to notify them that they’ve won money. If you've won less than $600 they will mail you a check. If you've won between $601 and $10,000.00, an affidavit is mailed, which must be completed and returned, and after the information has been verified, a check is sent by mail to the winner. If you've won more than $10,000.00, the prize patrol delivers the money in person. You can reach thePCH fraud hot line at 800-392-4190if you receive a suspicious call from anyone claiming to represent their company.

If you believe you have received a suspicious letter or email from a fake sweepstakes or wish to report another fraud or scam, please call the BBB Hotline: (903)581-8373.