Consumer Corner Column

Consumer Corner: Beware of scammers posing as Publishers Clearing House

Release Date: Mar 25, 2019

By Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt

Over the last several years, one of the most prevalent scams we have seen Kansans fall victim to is the lottery or sweepstakes scam.

Whether it’s a foreign lottery, sweepstakes or a government grant, scammers aim to lure people into sending money to pay for the taxes or processing fees now in exchange for the promise of a future “prize.” We always remind consumers that the Kansas Lottery is the only legitimate, legally operating lottery in Kansas, and you should never have to pay money upfront to claim a prize.

One specific scam revolves around sweepstakes run by Publishers Clearing House, where scammers pose as someone from the direct marketing company letting you know that you’ve won a prize in one of their many sweepstakes. To be clear, Publishers Clearing House itself is a legitimate company founded in the 1950s to do door to door sales, which later began promoting sweepstakes in the 1960s. The prizes range from $1 Amazon gift cards to its $10 million prize that traditionally has been announced after the Super Bowl. If you’ve won a prize from the actual Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes that is under $10,000, you’ll receive certified mail notifying you of the prize you have won. If you’ve won a prize greater than $10,000, Publishers Clearing House will come to your home and ring your doorbell. Under no circumstance will they call you over the phone. 

Lately we’ve seen an uptick in scam phone calls to consumers claiming they’ve won a Publishers Clearing House prize of $2.5 million or greater. The scammer will claim that you’ve won the prize, and you just have to pay some amount of money as the “tax” on the winnings to obtain it. In these scams, we’ve seen that they will ask you to send them the cash by sticking it inside a magazine and sending it through the mail. If you get one of these calls, hang up immediately. Never send money.

To find out more information on how to protect yourself from Publishers Clearing House scams or if you become the victim of one of them, or any other scam or rip-off, you can file a complaint with our Consumer Protection Division online at or by calling (800) 432-2310.