With the U.S. presidential election only days away, we can probably all agree that while both campaigns have been quite controversial, we’re all paying attention. It’s important to participate and take a real interest in the issues this election season, but unfortunately, that’s also what identity thieves are banking on. They’re hoping you’re so wrapped up in the political discourse that you’re too distracted to realize when you’re being taken advantage of.
As we prepare to cast our ballots on November 8, identity thieves are running election and voter registration scams so they can strike while the iron is hot. Don’t let these criminals ruin your election season — just remember to always question situations that don’t seem “right” and when in doubt, do not share your personal information.
Common Election and Voter Registration Scams to Avoid
- Donation requests – Calls asking for donations are not uncommon during an election year. Not only are the calls common, but perfectly legal as well. The only problem? Anyone can call you, say they’re representing a specific party or candidate, and ask you to donate to a campaign. You can’t even trust your Caller ID anymore because identity thieves are able to use technology that changes the Caller ID display on your phone and makes it look like the call is legitimate. Of course, you should feel free to make a donation to a campaign or candidate you feel strongly about — but don’t do it over the phone with a credit card. Your best bet is going to the candidate’s official website — type the URL into the browser and do not click any links — and making a donation using a secure connection.
- Election surveys – Another prevalent election scam involves calls that ask if you’d like to participate in a “quick political survey.” Like the calls for donation requests, the individual poses as a representative for a specific party or candidate, and can easily change the Caller ID. They may try to entice you by offering a “prize” for completing the survey. The person on the other end of the line will usually start with pretty basic questions related to the election to gain your trust, but then ease into more personal questions that, if answered truthfully, could be used to steal your identity.
- Confirming registration or re-registering – Registering to vote is not hard, but a lot of people sometimes a) move and forget if they updated their registration, b) think they have to re-register every year, or c) simply can’t remember if they’re registered to vote. Identity thieves love taking advantage of this confusion by calling or e-mailing you to confirm your voter registration, to tell you that you need to re-register, or to say they can help you register. Just remember this: no one legitimate will ever reach out to you via phone or e-mail to help with your registration. Don’t give these people any personal information whatsoever. If you’re not sure about the status of your voter registration, go to the website for your Secretary of State.
- Vote over the phone – This type of election scam loves to target senior citizens who may not be very mobile or could have trouble getting to a polling location. The caller tells you that you are eligible to vote by phone this election and proceeds to ask for personal information to “confirm” your identity. That vote, however, is never legally cast and the caller steals your identity in the process. The only legal ways to vote are by mail or in-person.
Election day may only be days away, but these types of election and voter registration scams are something you should look out for all the time. Identity thieves use these methods often and adjust them to fit various holidays, causes, and situations to suit their needs. Always be vigilant, and if something seems to good to be true, it probably is.
Even individuals that follow best practices to help them prevent identity theft can become victims. It’s always important to be alert, but it never hurts to have a little backup from an identity theft protection company like IdentityForce.