Fabricated 'REFERENDUM' Targets Seniors

  
     
October 18, 2016

A new scam is targeting seniors, preying on fears that they could lose Social Security benefits. Seniors are scared into donating to this fake cause and providing their personal information. 

How the Scam Works: 

You get a letter in the mail. It seems to be from a nonprofit advocacy group and claims that Congress is attempting to abolish Social Security. Fortunately, this group is working to save the benefits. They are allegedly mailing referendum ballots to every senior citizen in the country, allowing them to vote to keep the government program. 

To keep up its work, this group needs your donation. A donation of $16.45 will pay to mail "an additional 36 referendums on Social Security to citizens across America who feel the same way as you and me." 

Of course, the donation is a scam. If you send money, you will be out $16.45. Victims who fill out the form to make a credit card donation, open themselves up to ID theft and additional fraudulent charges. As usual, the scam varies slightly in different reports. The name of the advocacy group often changes and so does the exact language used. 

How to spot this phishing scam: 

  • Be wary if you are being asked to act immediately. Scammers typically try to push you into action before you have had time to think. 
  • Don't share your credit card information. Paying by credit card is typically a great way to protect yourself when purchasing online. But sending your name, address and credit card information to scammers opens yourself up to ID theft and other cons. 
  • If it seems too outlandish to be true, it probably is: Many cons snare victims by offering deals too good to be true. But some, like this, scare targets into taking action. Either way, use common sense and a quick web search. 
  • Know your government:  In the United States, referendums are not held on the national level and differ from state to state. Outside organizations do not pay for referendum ballots to be sent to voters. 

For More Information

For more on this scam, check out this article from NJ.com

To report a scam, go to BBB Scam Tracker (bbb.org/scamtracker). 

 

 

This Scam Alert has been sponsored by Western Union, a BBB National Partner.