The election is just weeks away, and scammers are stepping up their efforts. It’s an ideal opportunity for phishing scams and other fraud. The Better Business Bureau, AARP, and the FBI have all issued warnings about the tactics these scammers are using to take advantage of people during the election.
One of the most common types of fraud during election season are fake volunteers. These criminals may contact you through text message, email, phone calls, or even by knocking on your door. They pretend to be canvassing for a politician or encouraging voter registration, and it can be very difficult to tell the difference between the real thing and fraud.
Don’t give out your personal or banking information. A legitimate volunteer won’t ask for sensitive details like your Social Security number or your bank account number.
If you get an email or text message asking for a donation to a political cause, be extremely cautious. Never click links from unsolicited messages. These links may lead you to fraudulent websites or even download malicious software onto your device.
If you want to donate, reach out directly to a campaign office or the website of the candidate. Scammers can be very clever. One of their techniques is to “spoof” phone numbers so that the calls appear to be coming from Washington, DC, for example. The number looks legitimate, but in fact, they may be located anywhere in the world.
Voter registration and mail-in ballots are a huge issue in this election. There’s a lot of uncertainty about how to vote during the coronavirus pandemic–and scammers thrive on uncertainty.
Imposters may pretend to be government officials. Remember that government agencies will never call you out of the blue. They always send mail first. Also, watch out for anyone who claims to be able to help you register to vote. They may be trying to get your personal information.
Finally, watch out for fake pollsters and surveys. While there are legitimate polling agencies that cold-call people, they won’t ask for sensitive information. If a caller asks for anything beyond basic demographic information and your political affiliation, it might be a scam.
Another common tactic is to claim that you are eligible to win a prize or have actually won something. They’ll ask you to give your banking information to “deposit” the cash winnings. Sadly, this is a scam. Remember: If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.