Have you ever received a telephone scam call?

Publishers Clearing House (PCH) advertising is in full force and calls to the Better Business Bureau (BBB) regarding prize notifications are as well. "Our calls go up with the national advertising because local citizens are receiving emails, phone calls and mail telling them they've won," said Janna Kiehl, BBB CEO. "The problem is, thieves that leave you broke know how to trick you into believing you're playing a legitimate sweepstakes."

Right now, PCH is advertising the real prize, but how can you tell the difference in the real prize and fake scammers who want to take your money? According to the BBB, there are five ways to tell a fake promotion from the real deal. First, fake scams will request credit card or bank information. Never give out such information. If you do, they'll have access to your accounts. Secondly, in the real sweepstakes, your name will be listed in the Winner's Circle on the PCH website. Thirdly, for smaller prizes, you will be notified of winnings by registered mail. Never by email or phone. Fourthly, for the real grand prize, the PCH prize patrol will show up at your door with a bouquet of flowers and TV cameras - just like in the commercials. And just like in the commercials, THEY give YOU a check - not the other way around. Lastly, you will NOT be asked to send money to claim your prize - that's fake. You don't have to pay money to win. PCH doesn't ask for money in order to send your winnings.

"Callers tell us they really want to believe they've won, and who doesn't?" said Kiehl. "Most people will use good common sense and heed our warnings, but some will send thousands of dollars to thieves in foreign countries." Stop the money from leaving your pocket and the U.S., call the BBB first at (806) 379-7133. To learn more about scams in our area visit the BBB Scam Tracker to report a scam at https://www.bbb.org/scamtracker/amarillo/.

Have you ever been scammed? Share your situation and advice with our readers.