Scammers use Publishers Clearing House’s name to take your money

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Who’s that knocking at your door?

It could be Publishers Clearing House coming to tell you that you’ve won a potload of money.

But there are some scammers out there would like you to believe a face-to-face visit from Publishers Clearing House isn’t the only way to win their sweepstakes.

We’ve all seen the commercials where somebody is surprised at their front door by a camera crew and a giant cardboard check from Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes Prize Patrol.

But a Cary woman heard about her supposed winnings a different way.

“I got a phone call one afternoon saying I’d won the Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes and I said ‘how nice,'” said Nancy Reagan.


But the caller said they didn’t want to come to her door with her winnings saying that wouldn’t be a good idea.

“He said instead of having a van drive to my door, that would attract too many neighbors, they would do it confidentially,” Reagan said.

But, Publishers Clearing House says on its website it would never hide the fact you’re a winner.

“Winning is a complete surprise,” explains spokeswoman Danielle Lam. “We never let the winner know in advance we are on the way.”

The phone scammer told Reagan they’d pay the taxes on her winnings but she needed to provide some up-front cash to prove she was “interested.”

“He told me to go to Wal-Mart and get a money order,” she explained.

But Publishers Clearing House says you never have to pay anything to claim a cash prize in its contests.

After talking to the caller for a few minutes, Reagan realized it was a scam and called the police.

“They said there was no way to trace it but they’d heard this lot,” Reagan said.

The officer she spoke with said “I hope you didn’t send any money.”

Reagan says she didn’t but she says the officer told her “a lot of people had.”

Cary police tell CBS North Carolina it’s one of several phone scams they are investigating that have hit the area recently.

Reagan says there is a lesson in all this.

“Never believe anyone over the phone.”

Especially if they tell you you’ve won a large amount of money.

Because Publishers Clearing House is so well known, scammers have a variety of schemes using the name to steal your money.

That’s why Publishers Clearing House has a set up a whole section of its website devoted to fraud and prevention.

Email CBS North Carolina’s Steve Sbraccia if you have a consumer issue.

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