Don’t Let Election Scammers Count on Your Support This Election Season

August 02, 2012

Scammersare already gearing up for this year’s Presidential election, from robocallsoffering a “free cruise” for taking a political survey, to promises thatPresident Obama will pay your utility bill. Better Business Bureau is advisingvoters to be on the lookout for the growing number of scams that are likely tocontinue leading up to the Presidential election.

“Scammersuse incentives based on what they think voters want to hear,” noted RosemaryNye, President & CEO of the Better Business Bureau. “Hot topics like healthcare, economic recovery and unemployment, are sure to be the alluring topicsthis election season, but it can be anything in the news that makes the pitchsound more realistic.”

Hereare just a few of the election-related scams BBB is hearing about. Don’t fallfor them!

There will not be a “free cruise” at the end of the voting survey. Thes public opinionpoll scam typically involves a recorded announcement offering a “free cruise”in exchange for participating in a telephone survey.  At the end of thecall consumers are asked for a debit or credit card number to cover “port fees”and taxes.  Consumers who hesitate or ask if they can call back in orderto verify the caller’s identity are subject to high-pressure tactics, such asbeing told that the offer “is only good right now,” and that if they hang upthey will be disqualified.

President Obama is not going to pay your utility bill. As nice as that wouldbe, it’s not going to happen. Consumers have been contacted through fliers,social media, text messages, and even door-to-door with claims that PresidentObama is providing credits or applying payments to utility bills. Scammersclaim they need the consumers' Social Security and bank routing numbers toarrange the payments. In return, customers are given a phony bank routingnumber that will supposedly pay their utility bills. In reality, there is nomoney, and customers believe they have paid their bills when in fact they havenot. Worse, they’ve just given away everything needed for identity fraud.

Fundraising calls for political donations may not be real. Consumers havereported calls from organizations that sound legitimate, but may not really berelated to either the Obama or Romney campaigns. If you aren’t sure, don’tdonate over the phone. If you’d like to contribute to a political campaign or party,locate contact information yourself rather than giving out financialinformation to a caller. Requesting a callback number is no guarantee you willbe connected with a legitimate campaign fundraising committee. Call or visitcandidates’ websites to obtain contact information to make donation. No onewill check your eligibility to vote. Your voter registration record is withyour state and no one is going to call or email you to verify your eligibility.What do these callers claim they need to check? Just your credit card or SocialSecurity number. No way!

Don’t fall for these scams. Legitimate polling companies will never offerprizes for participating in a telephone survey, nor ask for a credit cardnumber. Never provide your Social Security number, credit card number orbanking information to anyone requesting it over thephone or at your home unless you initiated the contact and feel confident withwhom you are speaking. Do not give in to high pressure tactics, whether overthe phone or in person.

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