Publishers Clearing House Review: Scam Sweepstakes or Real Winners?

Today’s review is about

Say sweepstakes and most people instantly think of Publishers Clearing House and their famous prize patrol surprising people at their front door, flowers at hand, camera crew ready, shocking the homeowners with the news of them being the winners of PCH’s one million dollar sweepstakes.


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What is PCH Anyway?

PCH is a company that relies on direct marketing to sell magazine subscriptions and merchandise apart from operating prize-driven games, search and lotto sites.

The company’s products are advertised through prize promotions and sweepstakes.

As far as sweepstakes are concerned, the ones from PCH are the most sought after in the United States.

But are these sweepstakes a scam or do people actually win prizes from them?…

Before we answer that question, let’s find out a little more about the company and how it works.

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Founded by Harold Mertz in 1963, Publishers Clearing House was visualized to replace the then prevalent door-to-door selling of single magazine subscriptions with a unified vendor offering many subscriptions by way of mail.

The sweepstakes part was introduced by the company in 1967.

Come the 1990s, the company found itself surrounded with doubts and allegations as to whether it misled consumers about their chances of winning its sweepstakes and if the purchases made by them had any effect on their odds of winning.

Around 2010, PCH finally came to a settlement with every one of the 50 states.

Publishers Clearing House Address

In the backdrop of consumer complaints, the New York attorney’s office launched investigations into allegedly disruptive advertising carried out by the company.

Another 14 American states joined this suite later on. In 1994, although PCH denied any wrongdoing, it agreed to a settlement worth $490,000 in addition to modifying its practices.

The agreement required the company to spell out a clear definition for “finalist” and other similar terms it used. Also, PCH was required to reveal the chances of winning.


Prize Patrol

Prize Patrol is a unique concept as it involves surprising a sweepstakes winner at home, work or any other location. The entire event, including the cash prize awarding, is captured on video.

First introduced in 1989, these live reality-TV type videos showing surprised winners confronted with checks ranging from $1,000 to $10 million have found extensive use in the company’s commercials aired on television.

More recently, these videos have also been used in the internet acquisition efforts of the company in addition to its social media communications and various websites.

In 2013, a television campaign costing around $5 million was put in place whereby the usual Prize Patrol was shown visiting the characters from classic shows like Gilligan’s Island and The Brady Bunch.

While these camp gains were a result of digital video alteration, the Prize Patrol has indeed made real appearances or handed out prizes on popular TV shows including The Price is Right and The Oprah Winfrey Show.


Chances of Winning

What chances you stand at winning a PCH sweepstakes is determined by the total number of people in the fray and the actual prize/sweepstakes that is involved.

As per official regulations, the chances of winning $1 million per year alone are 1 in 1.3 billion.

Back in 2011, the odds for the same prize were 1 in 1.75 billion. Correspondingly, the odds for a $10 million win were 1 in 505 million in the year 2008 and 1 in 1.5 billion in 1995.

Winning a smaller prize is more probable as they have lesser odds like 1 in 223 to 1 in 80,000, which again is a function of the actually prize on offer.


Are Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes a Scam?

In a single word, the answer would be ‘no’!

The company does giveaway some fantastic prizes to fortunate winners regularly. But the problem lies with your odds of winning the said prizes.

As per a recent sweepstakes, chances of winning a $10 million prize are 505,000,000 to 1.

In other words, even if you made a sweepstakes entry every day, more than a million years would be needed for you to even stand some chance of winning.

Because of that reason alone, I recommend against giving too much time to PCH sweepstakes. An entry every now and then is perfectly fine but be cautious of spending a lot of time on it.


Will I Receive Spam from PCH Sweepstakes?

PCH is not the type that spams members or entrants. Neither is it a company that shares info on people entering its sweepstakes with different entities without your prior consent.

They fall in line with (and even go above) the minimum requirements as stated by CAN-SPAM laws.

PCH also consistently campaigns to increase the bar as far as the email marketing sector is concerned.

All said and done, there’s no denying that the company is entirely dependent on marketing for its revenues with sweepstakes being their primary method of generating leads.

As you queue up to register with the site, be ready to encounter a long and tiresome submission process stretching over multiple pages. You’ll also be confronted with many ads and offers during the process.

Be careful during this stage and ensure you sign up only for offers you actually want.

PCH’s Privacy Policy is also pretty clear about the fact that your name is included by default in the company’s mailing lists after you register.

If you want to remove your name and address from their mailing list, read this to find out how. sweepstakes form

Am I Required to Purchase Anything to Win PCH Sweepstakes?

Again, the answer would be no!

PCH’s entire business model is based on conducting sweepstakes. However, you are not required to purchase anything and even if you did, it won’t have any impact on your odds of winning a sweepstakes.


I Got a Mail Declaring I Might Have Won – Can I Trust This?

Make sure to go through the details of such a mail carefully. If the actual PCH company sends you a mail, it will say something along these lines, ‘If you enter this sweepstakes and if your name is drawn, you might be a winner’.

Drawing a winner is something that doesn’t take place till the sweepstakes reaches its expiry. So, if you are being asked to enter a sweepstakes, you must realize that your chances of winning are similar (read as ‘very long’) to those of hundreds of others; regardless of what the printed envelop says.

Usually, such mails are tools to goad you into entering the sweep.


I Got a Call Requiring Me to Pay Money Before I’m Able to Get My Prize, is this Legitimate?

Although sweepstakes from PCH are not scams, there are countless fraudsters out there who try and fool people by pretending to be calling on behalf of PCH.

Their phone call, inevitably, waters down to asking for money.

As such, you need to know two extremely important things about PCH sweepstakes before entering:

  1. Publishers Clearing House doesn’t notify a winner through telephone.
  2. A winner is NEVER EVER required to pay to claim his/her prize.

If ever you are doubtful about the authenticity of a win from, simply contact them at this toll-free number 1-877-3SWEEPS (1-877-379-3377) Monday to Friday from 8.30 AM to 5.30 PM.


How Will I Know on Winning a PCH Sweepstakes?

You will be notified of your winning either through a mail or the Prize Patrol itself might land up on your doorstep.

Remember that the company doesn’t use channels like phone, bulk mail or even email to notify winners.

Be wary of scams using the name of Publishers Clearing House to push illegal sweepstakes.


How to Stop Receiving Mailings from PCH?

In case you (or anyone known to you) is at the receiving end of too many mails from PCH, simply contact the company’s customer service section at 1-877-3SWEEPS (1-877-379-3377) Monday to Friday, 8:30 AM- 5:30 PM. Either the volume of mail sent to you will be reduced or they might strike your name off the mailing list completely.


Should You Play the Game?

I don’t think PCH is a scam, it is a completely legit game and sweepstakes company that does pay its winners.

Having said that, there have been many instances where scammers have used their name to scam people. So, you have to be careful not to fall for companies posing as PCH.

That said, I wouldn’t waste a lot of time trying to win their sweepstakes or the million dollar a year for life prize.

Sure, enter whenever you have the chance, but don’t get your hopes too high as the odds of winning are very small.

Yes, there have been many winners and there will be in the future as well. Who knows, maybe you’ll be one of the PCH winners, but don’t put your life on hold hoping you’ll win Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes.

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