A month ago in the Scam of the day for August 31st I told you about presidential campaign scams involving solicitations by telephone for campaign contributions by scammers posing as campaign workers for the major candidates. However, scammers taking advantage of interest in the presidential election have a variety of other scams that they are perpetrating at this time as well. Political candidates and PACs supporting them will try to contact you through email and text message solicitations, but unfortunately, you can never be sure when you are contacted in this fashion if the communication is coming from a legitimate source or a scammer.
Another common election time scam involves a call purportedly from your city or town clerk informing you that you need to re-register or you will be removed from the voting lists. You are then told that you can re-register over the phone merely by providing some personal information, such as your Social Security number. Again, through spoofing, the scammer can manipulate your Caller ID to make the call appear as if it is coming from your city or town clerk. Scammers will take this information, if provided, and use it to make you a victim of identity theft.
Political polls have been a major part of our election process for years. Generally, people are contacted by telephone to answer questions about the candidates and their policies. Because it is so common at this time of year to be called by a political pollster scammers call posing as pollsters in an effort to trick their victims into providing information that can be used for purposes of identity theft. Often they will dangle the reward of a gift card or other prize to lure people into participating in the scam poll. Even if you are registered with the federal Do Not Call List, political pollsters are allowed to contact you. Unfortunately, through spoofing, criminals can manipulate your Caller ID to make it appear as if the call is coming from a legitmate pollster.
Never click on links that may come attached to such politically related emails or text messages because the risk of downloading dangerous malware is too great. Instead, if you are inclined to contribute to a particular candidate or PAC, go directly to their website to make your contribution, but make sure to confirm that you have gone to the real website and not that of a scammer posing as the candidate or PAC.
As for registration scams, the truth is that you will not be called by your city or town clerk and told that you need to re-register and voter registration is not done by phone. If you have any concerns as to your voting registration status, you can go to your city or town’s website and learn if you are registered or call your city or town clerk to confirm your status.
Finally, legitimate pollsters do not offer prizes or other compensation for participating in their polls. They also will never ask for personal information such as your Social Security number, credit card number or banking information. Anyone posing as a pollster asking for such information is a scammer and you should hang up immediately.
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