8 Effective Ways to Stop Scammers by Reporting Them to Authorities

Stop Sweepstakes Scams from Spreading by Reporting Them.

Realizing that you are being scammed is a frightening feeling. Whether you have lost money or managed to avoid the scam, you may be feeling unsettled, angry, or embarrassed. Plus, you may be more vulnerable to being targeted again. Once scammers identify targets, they often attempt to trick them over and over again. So what do you do? Reporting sweepstakes scammers and identity thieves to the authorities is your first step toward shutting them down.

Here are eight reliable places to turn to for help. If you have lost money through sweepstakes fraud, it might be difficult to recover. However, if anyone can get your money back, it's these agencies. Plus, making a report can help you prevent further losses.

Why Report Sweepstakes Scams?

Knowing the warning signs of sweepstakes scams can keep you safe from con men who'd like nothing better than to part you from your money. But scammers are always developing new ways to use people's trust again them. Knowing that kind of tactics scammers are using right now helps the authorities act against them effectively. And spreading the word can help potential victims know exactly what they need to look out for.

Plus, shouldn't scammers pay for their crimes? Staying quiet helps con artists get away with theft of money, identities, and more.

If you've been the victim or attempted victim of sweepstakes fraud, reporting the scam to the proper authorities can help catch the criminals before they can prey on another innocent victim. Here are some of the official agencies that work to stop sweepstakes scams, and how to contact them:

The United States Postal Service

USPS Mail Carrier Delivering Packages
The USPS handles complaints of sweepstakes scams that you receive by mail. Image (c) USPS

If you are a citizen of the United States and you have received a scam letter in the mail, or if you are a resident of another country who has received a fraudulent letter or a fake check scam that originated in the U.S., you can report the scam to the United States Postal Service.

You can start your scam report by downloading and returning this mail fraud complaint form. You can also report mail fraud online, by telephone, or in person. For help finding someone to talk to directly for more information, visit the ​USPS Customer Service ​website .

The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3)

Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) Logo
IC3 accepts reports of internet crime, including sweepstakes scams. Image (c) IC3

If your sweepstakes scam was perpetrated online, via an email or a website, you can report it to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3). The IC3 is an inter-agency website run by the National White Collar Crime Center and the FBI, and they have an online form that makes reporting quick and painless. Once you have made your report, the IC3 will process it and direct it to the proper legal organization.

You can only make a complaint to IC3 if either the victim or the scammer was located in the United States.

The Federal Trade Commission

FTC Seal
The FTC handles identity theft, DNC registry complaints, and more. Image (c) FTC

The Federal Trade Commission collects information about current scams and frauds and directs it to law enforcement officials. You can use this form to report unwanted telemarketing contacts, sweepstakes scam phone calls, spam, and similar problems. Their website can also help you report ID theft, apply for refunds from unauthorized purchases, and more.

Your State's Attorney General

Smiling lawyer holding file in courtroom
Your Attorney General Could Be Your Ally Against Scammers. Chris Ryan / Getty Images

The Consumer Protection Offices of your state's Attorney General have the power to track and investigate scam claims. They may also be able to help you if you don't receive a prize that you were promised or if you feel that a contest is cheating with its winner selections. 

If you have fallen prey to a scam, it's a good idea to call your Attorney General's office to see which services they can offer to help.

Enlist Your Local Media

Newswoman sitting at desk
Your Local Media May Report about Scams. DreamPictures / Getty Images

If there is a scam going on in your area, your local media is a resource you want to have on your side. Local newspapers or news stations may be able to help you pursue your scammers, receive restitution, or at the very least to help warn others so that they won't become victims as well.

Some news stations even have dedicated consumer advocates, like ABC 15 in Arizona's Let Joe Know. Call or Google your local news stations to see what kinds of services are available in your area.


Photo of a Canadian flag against a blue sky, illustrating About.com's Canadian Sweepstakes List.
Scam reporting by or for Canadians. Image © Arnold Media / Getty Images.

If your scam involves a Canadian company or if you are a Canadian citizen, you can report the scammers to Phonebusters at their website for Reporting Economic Crime Online. Phonebusters actively investigates sweepstakes fraud and is a good source of information about current scams taking place in Canada and how to keep yourself from becoming a victim of one of them.

File a Police Report

Young policewoman and young policeman in office, portrait
Filing a report at your local police station can be helpful if you have lost money or are a victim of ID theft. Darrin Klimek / Getty Images

Filing a report with your local police can help you get the information you need to attempt to reclaim lost money. If you are a victim of identity theft, a police report can also help absolve you of responsibility for charges you didn't make.

The police can assist you in contacting other authorities who are investigating similar crimes.

You can make a report in person or by telephone. Use your local phone directory to find a non-emergency number to call to report your scam.

Publishers Clearing House's Abuse Team

Businesswoman wearing headset in office
Contact PCH directly to report sweepstakes scams that abuse their name. Tom Merton / Getty Images

Publishers Clearing House's good name is often misused in sweepstakes scams. PCH works closely with legal authorities to help stop scams that claim to come from Publishers Clearing House, and reporting the scam to them helps them take more effective action.

Obviously, you don't want to report legitimate prize wins. If you're not sure whether you've received a scam or a legitimate prize notification, read Did I Really Win from PCH?

If you've received an email, a bulk letter, or a phone call saying that you've won from PCH, you can send a report to abuse@pch.com or use one of these other ways to contact PCH.

Together, We Can Stop Sweepstakes Scams

Taking a few minutes of your time to report a sweepstakes scam, attempted ID theft, or other cyber crime can help authorities track crime, protect potential victims, and nab criminals. The people who commit scams and fraud are difficult to pin down, and your report might be just what the authorities need to make an arrest.