9/26/2022 | By Amy Dickinson

An “Ask Amy” reader shares her tale of almost being scammed, and a national bank warns customers about a trending payment scam.

Nearly scammed! 

Dear Amy: 

I receive many phone calls from people claiming to be from Publishers Clearing House telling me that I have won millions of dollars.

I hang up, but then the other day I received a letter telling me I had won $250 million!

Many instructions and phone numbers were included. I wondered where I could verify this without calling any of the phone numbers.

Then I read your column, where there was a letter from a man wondering whether he was involved in a scam. You advised him that he was and gave him ways to check.

I called AARP’s Fraud hotline (877) 908-3360 (also

They were wonderful! A real person answered. I explained my concern and she transferred me to the proper department where I spoke to another real person. She explained that PCH NEVER calls or writes before appearing at a person’s door to announce the win.

Thank you for publishing this information!

Relieved in Hagerstown, MD

Dear Relieved:

Thank you to the AARP, for providing this invaluable service.

Related: How to stay safe from scams and shysters

Trending payment scam

Bank of America recently contacted customers warning them about a trending payment scam involving mobile payment applications, specifically Zelle.

Here are the details of the “pay yourself” scam

  • You receive a text message that looks like a fraud alert from your bank about unusual activity. The text may look something like “Did you make a purchase of $100.00 at ABC merchant?”
  • If you respond to the text, you have now engaged the scammer and will receive a call from a number that appears to be from a bank.
  • They’ll appear to be a representative from a bank and will offer to help stop the alleged fraud by asking you to send money to yourself with Zelle®.
  • The scammer will ask you for a one-time code you just received from a bank.
  • If you give them the code, they will use it to enroll their bank account with Zelle® using your email or phone number.
  • The scammer now has the ability to receive your money into their account.

What you can do to help stay protected

  • Don’t trust caller ID — it’s not always who it says it is.
  • Don’t share codes based on a call you receive.
  • Don’t be pressured to act immediately.

Amy Dickinson