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Publishers Clearing House scam season has begun

Posted at 6:00 AM, Jan 19, 2022

It's that time of year: Publishers Clearing House awards season. In 2022, some lucky winner will be getting $5,000 a week for life, according to the company's website and TV commercials featuring NFL great Terry Bradshaw.

Marlene, who did not want to use her last name, received a voicemail that said she was the winner.

"Today's your big day," the message said. "We have sent to you a winner's notification letter."

"He seemed very sincere," the 87-year-old said. "They were holding my funds for me at the Federal Reserve Bank in New York."

In addition to the money, Marlene was told she would be getting a new car.

"He said I won a new BMW, three years of gas and three years of free insurance on that car," she said.

Publishers Clearing House ad

Red flags that it was not legit

Luckily, Marlene became suspicious.

"In the first place, I was not entered in the sweepstakes, and in the second place, they did not use my name when they called," Marlene said.

Michelle Florence, Marlene's goddaughter, worries other seniors may fall for the scam.

"You get excited. You think you won the sweepstakes, and some people think maybe they did enter, and before they know it, their whole life savings is gone," Florence said.

Besides calls, other victims are targeted with official-looking letters and checks that turn out to be fake. People are asked to deposit the checks and send back attorney fees or taxes. A week later, the check bounces.

Warning signs of a scam

Publishers Clearing House warns of scams on its website:

  • It will never call to say you are a winner (major winners get a visit from the Prize Patrol)
  • It will never ask you to pay taxes or legal fees upfront
  • It will never send you a check and ask you to send back some of the money

Marlene has one other tip for people who think they may have won.

"They don't leave a message on your answering machine. They come in person," she said.

The sharp and quick-witted 87-year-old wants others to be aware of potential scams, so you don't waste your money.


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