Re: Phone sweepstakes scam takes a Baton Rouge victim

Hello. This is Chris Irving, Assistant Vice President for Consumer Affairs at Publishers Clearing House. We viewed with great interest the NBC 33 News story that reported on criminal scam artists posing as legitimate sweepstakes and requiring consumers to forward money for a non-existing prize. We appreciate the efforts in focusing public attention on scam protection and in helping to better educate consumers. We were very concerned, however, that the story provided a number of inaccurate facts.
The report indicated that scam artists may acquire names directly from Publishers Clearing House. This is false. As is our practice – and one that is required by the DMA Guidelines whose Ethics Committee we chair – we do not exchange or rent lists to any company or individual without first reviewing and approving the source and the type of promotion that will be used for the names they receive. PCH would never agree to rent or exchange a list of our consumers’ names to an unknown party or any individual associated with telemarketing scams. We would have certainly provided NBC33 these facts if they had contacted us prior to airing the story.
We were also a bit puzzled by the suggestion included in the story that that putting one’s name on the National Do Not Call list would help avoid such calls from criminal scam artists. The National Do Not Call List is designed for companies to register with the FTC and “scrub” their call lists against the file maintained by the Commission. It is highly unlikely that criminal scam artists the story reports on would ever use such a list.
PCH has put in place a comprehensive and unique program to combat these scams. This includes partnering with federal, state, local and foreign law enforcement, increasing consumer education, and direct “take down” actions that immediately begin the process of having scam phone numbers shut down. The one simple tip that consumers should always remember for best protection is easy to remember - - if it is a legitimate sweepstakes you never have to send any money for any reason to collect your prize. If it is not free it is not a legitimate prize and certainly not from the real Publishers Clearing House.