FTC Cautions Consumers About Voter Registration Scams

August 07, 2008

Have you received an unsolicited e-mail or phone call from someone who claims to represent your local election board or civic group and asks for your Social Security or credit card number to confirm your eligibility or registration to vote?

According to the Federal Trade Commission, the nation's consumer protection agency, scammers may send messages asking for your Social Security number or financial information supposedly to register you to vote – or to confirm your registration – when they really want to commit identity theft.

As a rule, federal officials say, organizations conducting legitimate voter registration drives either contact you in person or give you a voter registration form that you fill out yourself. They will never ask you to provide your financial information.

If you get an unsolicited phone call or e-mail from someone who claims to need your Social Security number or other personal or financial information to register you to vote, report it to the FTC online at www.ftc.gov, or by phone at 1-877-FTC-HELP. If you already have shared your personal information with someone you don’t know, you may be the victim of a scam. File your complaint with the FTC, then visit www.ftc.gov/idtheft.

To register to vote – and to find out whether your state requires your Social Security number for registration – contact your local election office, or check the U.S. Election Assistance Commission’s National Voter Registration Form at www.eac.gov/voter. Most states accept this form. Many states and localities have their own rules about how far before an election you must register to be able to vote, and whether a Social Security number is required .

Radio reporters wishing to download an audio file summarizing this release can find it here: www.ftc.gov/opa/index.shtml. Click on the news release, then look under Related Items/Audio Feed on the right-hand side of the page.

The Federal Trade Commission works for consumers to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices and to provide information to help spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint in English or Spanish, visit the FTC’s online Complaint Assistant or call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). The FTC enters complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to more than 1,500 civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. The FTC’s Web site provides free information on a variety of consumer topics.