Political Scams On the Rise as Election Nears
Inside Subprime: Oct 30, 2018
By Lindsay Frankel
While it’s common to receive legitimate calls from political pollsters and volunteers around the time of an election, the Better Business Bureau warns that scammers may impersonate political callers in an effort to steal money or gain access to your private information. These imposters play on people’s frustrations regarding current leadership and often use convincing tactics to get victims to share their information.
Some scammers will pretend to represent a political candidate and claim to be raising money for a cause. Others will say they are conducting a political survey, and offer a reward for your time. After asking a series of political questions, the scammer will then request a credit card number to bill for shipping the prize. Know that real polling companies rarely offer prizes for participation and would never ask for a credit card number over the phone.
Some scammers will even use real audio clips to impersonate a politician. These recordings sound realistic, but they are likely taken from speeches or interviews in the media. The recording will request that the victim push a button to be put in contact with an agent in order to make a donation. These scams are particularly difficult to recognize, since politicians often use pre-recorded messages.
Cyber security experts also caution consumers about the rise in phishing emails. These come in the form of lobbying emails, news articles, and solicitation emails, but these scams are an attempt to get you to click on a bad link and enter personal information.
While not all political calls are scams, the BBB recommends donating to the campaign office directly, either through an official website or local campaign office, rather than providing information over the phone. The same goes for emails – rather than click on a link sent to you through email or social media, navigate directly to the organization’s website. The BBB also wants consumers to be aware that scammers can use caller ID spoofing to make a call appear legitimate. Don’t automatically trust a caller because they appear to be calling from a Washington D.C. phone number or a campaign office.
Prize offers are a sure sign of a scam, so hang up if you receive one of these calls. In addition, pollsters may ask for certain demographic information, but a caller asking for a credit card number is likely an imposter. Watch for these red flags and, when in doubt, hang up and call the organization directly.