Scammers are gearing up for this year’s Presidential election, from robo-calls offering a “free cruise” for taking a political survey, to promises that President Obama will pay your utility bill. Better Business Bureau is advising consumers to be on the lookout for the growing number of scams that are likely to continue leading up to the Presidential election.
“Scammers use incentives based on what they think voters want to hear,” noted Claire Rosenzweig, President and CEO of the Metro New York Better Business Bureau. “Hot topics like health care, economic recovery and unemployment are sure to be the galvanizing topics this election season, but anything currently in the news can make a pitch sound realistic.”
Here are just a few of the election-related scams BBB is hearing about. Don’t fall for them!
There will NOT be a “free cruise” at the end of the voting survey. These scams typically offer a free cruise in exchange for participating in a public opinion telephone survey. At the end of the call consumers are asked for a debit or credit card number to cover “port fees and taxes.” Consumers who hesitate are subject to high-pressure tactics, such as being told that the offer is only good “right now.”
President Obama is NOT going to pay your utility bill. Consumers have been contacted through fliers, social media, text messages, and even door-to-door with claims that President Obama is providing credits or applying payments to utility bills. Scammers claim they need the consumer’s Social Security and bank routing numbers to arrange the payments. In reality, no bills are actually paid and the consumer has set himself up for identity fraud.
Fundraising calls for political donations may not be real. Calls from organizations may sound legitimate, but there is always the potential for fraud. Do not give credit card numbers or other financial information to unsolicited callers seeking political donations. If you’d like to contribute to a political campaign or party, call or visit the candidate’s website to locate the contact information yourself.
Your state is will NOT call or email you to check your eligibility to vote. If you are contacted by someone asking for your Social Security Number or a credit card number to verify your eligibility to vote, it is a scam!
Don’t fall for these scams. Legitimate polling companies will never offer prizes for participating in a telephone survey, nor will they ask for a credit card number. Never provide your Social Security number, credit card number or banking information to anyone requesting it over the phone or at your door unless you initiated the contact and feel confident with whom you are speaking. Do not give in to high pressure tactics, whether over the phone or in person.