The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is advising the public to be cautious of letters that appear to be from Publishers Clearing House (PCH) that state that the recipient has won a grand prize drawing of $2 million or more, according to a news release from the BBB.
Officials said despite these "official-looking letters", those who receive the letters are the target of a scam that is reappearing across the country.
The fake letters "follow on the heels of a legitimate PCH award," according to the news release.
Officials said the letters are not only showing up in mailboxes, but people report receiving phone calls from individuals pretending to be from PCH as well.
The letters, which display the official PCH logo on them, claim recipients have won over $2 million and instruct recipients to contact a PCH claim agent for further instructions on how to claim their prize winnings immediately, according to the news release.
Some of the letters also include a check for as much as $5,900 and instructions to call a claims agent named in the letter, officials said.
The BBB provides advice if you receive a similar letter, email or phone call from Publishers Clearing House:
- One of the easiest things to do is to look up the PCH phone number yourself (from a trusted source like BBB) and give them a call; representatives from Publishers Clearing House should be able to verify if the letter you're holding is legitimate or if it's a scam.
- According to PCH, winning entrants of the contest must be located and sign an Affidavit of Eligibility within 30 days of being chosen as the winner or another entrant will be selected.
- PCH will never send out winning notices by email or phone calls. They strictly notify winners by mail or in person.
- If the phone call or letter you've received asks for money, bear in mind that the real PCH says; "winning is always free." Consumers should never wire money to an unknown individual or company in order to receive something in return.
- While this scam predominantly takes advantage of individuals, business owners also need to be aware that their company's name could potentially be used by fraudsters to pull off this con. The fraudulent checks sent to the supposed prize winners with the letter are copies of checks from legitimate businesses which have been stolen by the scammers. Businesses located in Alabama, California, Kansas and West Virginia have discovered that their checks, which included their name, address and even account number, were reproduced as part of this fraud in the past.