Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions about PCH Sweepstakes

Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes are probably the most famous and most dreamed-about sweepstakes in America. But are PCH sweepstakes scams? How will you know if you win? Learn the answers to these and other important questions here. For additional information, read the Publishers Clearing House Profile.

Are Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes Scams?

Man receiving one billion dollar check, interviewed by television crew
Stephen Stickler / Getty Images

Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes are not scams. They really do award amazing prizes to lucky winners on a regular basis.

However, the odds of being one of those winners is extremely small. The estimated odds of winning a recent $10 million sweepstakes were 505,000,000 to one.

For that reason, I recommend not spending much time on PCH sweepstakes. If you want to drop in a few entries, great, since that brings your chances of winning from "impossible" to "extremely unlikely" (and whoever does win, their odds will have been extremely unlikely, too).

But for more realistic chances of winning real prizes, you should enter other sweepstakes as well, like the ones found on the Big Sweepstakes, Lots of Prizes, or Instant Win Sweepstakes lists.

For more information, see Are Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes Scams?

Will I Receive Spam from Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes?

Publishers Clearing House does not spam entrants, nor do they share the personal information of the people who enter their sweepstakes with other companies without permission. They abide by (and even exceed) CAN-SPAM laws, and they campaign to raise the bar in the email marketing industry.

That said, while you won't be *spammed* by definition, you could receive a lot of mail/email for entering Publishers Clearing House's sweepstakes.

PCH relies on marketing as a revenue stream, and sweepstakes are a primary way for them to generate leads. When you sign up online, be prepared to face a tedious multi-page submission process with the option to sign up for a variety of offers and advertisements. Be sure to take your time and sign up only for the offers you really want, if any.

Publishers Clearing House's privacy policy also indicates that your name will be added to mailing lists when you register, including repeat chances to return and enter again for more chances to win. If you want to change your mailing preferences, see How to Unsubscribe from Publishers Clearing House's Mailing Lists.

Do I Have to Buy Anything to Win a PCH Sweepstake?

No. Publishers Clearing House has built its entire business around offering sweepstakes, but you never, ever need to buy anything to win, and making a purchase will not improve your chances of winning.

Over the years, PCH has faced legal action for not making this clear enough to its entrants. Many states sued Publishers Clearing House for misleading advertising, and the company paid a multi-million dollar settlement, much of which was returned to victims of the misleading sweepstakes.

By the terms of the settlement, PCH sweepstakes must include fine print to make sure that recipients of their mailings understand their odds and the reality that winning a SuperPrize Jackpot is a very long shot. They are also prohibited from using terminology that makes people believe they are close to winning.

I Received a Mail that Says I Might Be a Winner - Is It Real?

Read the fine print of the mailing carefully. If the mail is from Publishers Clearing House, it will usually say something like, 'If you enter this sweepstakes and your name is drawn, you might be a winner.'

No winner is drawn until the sweepstakes expires, so if they are still asking you to enter the sweepstakes, you have the same (very long) odds as everyone else no matter what the big print on the envelope says. In most cases, these mails are just enticements to enter the sweep.

One thing that PCH sometimes does to encourage entry is to tell you that someone with your initials or in your area will win. Well, it's not the SuperPrize Jackpot they mean when they write that. See Will Someone With My Initials Really Win the PCH Jackpot? for more details.

Of course, you may also be receiving emails from a con artist who is simply stealing PCH's name for a scam. See How to Recognize PCH Scams for information about how to tell the difference between a real win notice and a Publishers Clearing House scam.

I Received a Call Asking for Money Before I Receive My Prize. Is It Legit?

While Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes are not actually scams, many sweepstakes scammers pretend to be calling from PCH in order to convince people to part with their money. There are two very important things to remember about entering PCH sweepstakes:

  1. PCH does not notify winners by telephone.
  2. You NEVER have to pay to receive your prize.

The Warning Signs of Sweepstakes Scams still hold true for Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes.

If you are ever uncertain whether a PCH win notification is legitimate or not, you can contact them toll-free at 1-877-3SWEEPS (1-877-379-3377) Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. for verification.

How Will I Know When I Win Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes?

Publishers Clearing House notifies their winners either by mail or by the Prize Patrol showing up at the winner's doorstep. As stated above, PCH does not notify winners by telephone, email, or bulk mail. Be very careful not to confuse a legitimate PCH win with a scam using the Publishers Clearing House name.

Read more about how to avoid Publishers Clearing House scams to protect yourself.

What If I'm Not Home When the Prize Team Arrives?

The Prize Patrol will find winners, even if they're not at home. The Prize Patrol has found people in the hospital, at work, after they've moved, they've even surprised a winner on an airplane! So don't worry about sitting around at home waiting for the Prize Patrol. If you've won, they'll find you.

For more information, see Behind the Scenes with the PCH Prize Patrol.

Is a Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes Running Right Now?

Probably. When a Publishers Clearing House sweepstakes ends, a new one usually starts again almost immediately. To find current PCH sweepstakes, check the Mega Sweepstakes or Cash Sweepstakes lists.

See Why Don't PCH Sweepstakes Ever Seem to End? for more information on how the giveaways work.

Where Can I Find a List of Publishers Clearing House Winners?

For winners from 1986 to the present, visit the Winner's Circle.

What Do I Do to Stop Receiving PCH Mailings?

If you or a relative are receiving too much mail from PCH, contact their customer service department at 1-877-3SWEEPS (1-877-379-3377) Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. The customer service department can reduce the number of mailings you receive, or they can remove your name from their mailing list altogether.

For more information, see How to Contact Publishers Clearing House.

How Can I Contact Publishers Clearing House?

If you'd like to verify a prize win, unsubscribe from Publishers Clearing House's mailing lists, check the status of an order, or get other information directly from the source, see my article on How to Contact PCH. Note that this site is not affiliated with Publishers Clearing House.

If I Win from Publishers Clearing House, Will Ed McMahon Bring My Prize?

No. For one thing, Ed McMahon passed away on June 23, 2009. But he never would have brought a prize to a Publishers Clearing House winner, because because Ed McMahon actually worked for PCH competitor, American Family Publishers.

American Family Publishers was a competitor of Publishers Clearing House. They both sold magazine subscriptions, and they both held huge sweepstakes, but they were two separate companies. Ed McMahon was never involved with Publishers Clearing House.