Publisher’s Clearing House Scam

Just about every person in America has gotten the flyer in the mail: “Someone in YOUR zip code with YOUR initials is going to with $1,000 a day for life!”

These letters, television commercials and emails have almost become American icons. You may remember your grandmother buying magazines from PCH. The company was launched in 1953, and the sweepstakes first began in 1967.

So is Publisher’s Clearing House a scam? Could you really be set for life, just by entering the sweepstakes? Read on to learn all you need to know about the Publisher’s Clearing House scam.

What is Publisher’s Clearing House?

As mentioned, Publisher’s Clearing House has been around for a long time. The company was founded as a way for American households to subscribe to more than one magazine at a time, and grew to include sweepstakes about a decade after its launch.

In the years since, Publisher’s Clearing House sweepstakes have become quite large. At inception, prizes were as little as $.25 but today the company offers sweepstakes to win millions of dollars. Furthermore, the PCH store no longer includes only magazines. Music CDs, adult coloring books and collectible items are offered through the site.

Of course, with this growth has also come quite a bit of criticism. Talk of the Publisher’s Clearing House scam began in the 1990s and continue still today. So what’s wrong with a company offering a chance to win prizes, as well as sponsoring sweepstakes?

Well, reviews are mixed. And, once again, a lot of these reviews correlate closely with peoples’ common sense. Want to know more about the alleged Publisher’s Clearing House scam? Keep reading.

Publisher’s Clearing House Scam: Fact or Fiction?

Publisher’s Clearing House

Back in the 90s, Publisher’s Clearing House came under quite a bit of scrutiny. People who had participated in the sweepstakes were, frankly, confused. They didn’t understand how, because they’d purchased hundreds – sometimes thousands – of dollars’ worth of magazines from the company they never actually won a prize.

Customers were also wary of the odds of winning. They claimed that PCH was unclear, or untruthful, about actual chances of winning prizes through the sweepstakes. In fact, the company (along with a competitor) found itself facing lawsuits for just this reason.

To summarize the suit, Publisher’s Clearing House was vague in its mailings. The company told each mail recipient that he was a “finalist” and also led customers to believe that purchasing through the company would increase their chances of winning. Publisher’s Clearing House admitted no wrongdoing, yet paid a settlement just under half a million dollars.

In the years since then, PCH has come under fire several more times. One man received a mailer and flew to Florida thinking he’d won a prize. In short, the company notoriously pushes boundaries of deception in advertising, and has earned a reputation as the Publisher’s Clearing House scam.

Is All PCH a Scam?

Are you the next guaranteed winner?

Will someone with your initials, in your zip code, win the grand prize?
No, and no. In fact, the odds of winning the Publisher’s Clearing House grand prize currently rest at 1:6.200,000,000. In other words, slim to none.

Can you buy magazines through Publisher’s Clearing House? Yes, absolutely! For over half a century, the company has been offering legitimate magazine subscriptions. And as mentioned, now there is other merchandise available as well.

The Publisher’s Clearing House website is, today, largely devoted to gaming. You’ll find scratch offs, Plinko, slots, blackjack and more, through which you can earn prizes. As gaming sites go, it’s not the worst you’ll find. That said, you’re more likely to win ten bucks here and twenty there than you are to become America’s next millionaire.

So, is all of PCH a scam? No, it’s not. But instead of spending thousands of dollars on magazine subscriptions, we’d recommend rather that you spend a few minutes doing scratch offs. Your odds of winning a few dollars are much, much higher than your odds of winning the grand prize.

Publisher’s Clearing House Reviews: Should You Use the Site?


We’ve spent quite a bit of time discussing the sweepstakes aspect of Publisher’s Clearing House. Of course, there’s another side to the company as well: the sales of magazines and merchandise.

On the whole, reviews of Publisher’s Clearing House are neutral. You’ll find an odd review here and there saying that a customer never received his merchandise. But that happens with just about every company on the planet.

Magazines are still the biggest sellers on PCH. With that said, though, the discounts aren’t like you’ll find at other magazine outlets. And, if we’re being honest, we found the PCH website very difficult to navigate. You’ll need to input your name, birthdate and email address before you can even browse catalogs, and once you do it’s seemingly impossible to find the catalog at all.

Before you go down the rabbit hole of signing up for Publisher’s Clearing House emails and sweepstakes entries, we recommend you check out other magazine retailers first. It’s simply not, in our opinion, worth the frustration to shop through the site.

If it’s a games site you’re looking for, though, PCH may me a fun diversion for you. Rather than scrolling through your social media feed, there’s no harm in playing Bingo or Plinko on the site. Just remember: when you get that email in your inbox, it doesn’t mean you’re a guaranteed winner. Do not book that flight to Florida.

Publisher’s Clearing House Scam: In Summary

Publisher’s Clearing House isn’t a scam. It’s a legitimate site offering tangible products as well as a (horrifically slim) chance to win some prizes. The games are fun little time sinks that will keep you entertained for hours. You may even score a few bucks.

Remember, though, that common sense must prevail. Your odds of winning are very low. Publisher’s Clearing House has been known to use some shady advertising practices throughout the span of its operations, so be sure, as with anything, that you read all the details before you spend your hard earned money.

There are also many actual scams and suspicious services that you should be on the lookout for, including Get It Free, a host of Facebook scams, and many different phone scams. Be sure to check with our guide on DealDash as well.