IRS scams are big this time of year, and now police say there's another type of scam we should watch out for in West Michigan: One involving fake contest winnings from Publishers Clearing House.

The City of Walker Police Department posted about the scam to Facebook. They shared a story from Moore County, North Carolina, saying they have also taken a report involving this scam here in West Michigan.

According to the Sandhill Sentinel, a letter that appears to be from Publishers Clearing House, along with a check is being delivered through the mail, but authorities in Moore County warn it's a scam.

The letter says the check is to "cover attorney and attorney fees".

Moore County Sheriff Ronnie Fields told the Sandhill Sentinel,

“The Publishers Clearing House will never ask anyone to pay a fee to receive a prize and will not call ahead to say you have won a prize. If you or someone you know receives a call to send money in order to collect a prize, hang up and report it to the Federal Trade Commission."

The FTC says in another version of the scam, fraudsters will ask you to send money to cover taxes and fees by Western Union, MoneyGram, or gift card.

"But that’s not the only way scammers get your money with this scam. Some will send you a realistic-looking fake check in the mail. You’re told that, to claim your prize, you need to deposit the check and send some of the money back for made-up expenses. But when the check you deposit bounces — even after it seemed to clear — you may be on the hook for the money you sent."

Here are some tips from the FTC if you think you have won a prize:

  • Never send money to collect a prize, sweepstakes check, or lottery winnings. If you have to pay, it’s a scam.
  • Never deposit a check and send back money, even if the funds appear in your account. That’s a sure sign of a scam.
  • If anyone calls asking you to pay for a prize, hang up and report it to the FTC,