The Canton Regional and Greater West Virginia Better Business Bureau offers tips and advice for consumers to avoid fraudulent practices.
With the election just around the corner, this is a prime time for some common election scams to appear, so residents should be on alert. Con artists pose as pollsters, election officials and fundraisers to obtain personal and financial information from unsuspecting consumers. These scam artists are targeting potential voters through a variety of telephone calls.
"It is easy for a scammer to alter the phone number seen on a caller ID in order to deceive consumers into thinking the call is coming from someone else," says BBB president Frank Cilona. "And with charities, politicians and pollsters as a part of the exemptions to the /Do Not Call' registry rules, scammers are able to abuse this as well."
The four most common election scams are as follows and how to avoid them.
Phony campaign fundraising.
Callers claim to be from one of the political parties, election committees or may even be representing a named candidate for which they state they are collecting donations. They will provide an immediate "donate now" option and may even know your party affiliation.
Never respond immediately to unsolicited phone calls. Do your own research; get their organizations name and phone number and check it out online or with the BBB before giving any money. If you want to support a particular candidate or party, call the campaign or election office, or visit the party or candidate website directly.
Voter Registration Scam
Callers claim you need to re-register if you haven't voted since the last Presidential election. Some emails and Facebook postings also claim that names of non-voters have been taken off the voter list. The scammers are seeking personal information and some have even asked for social security numbers.
For any questions regarding voting eligibility, never give personal information over the phone, but instead contact your County Elections Office or your state Elections Division. Remember, you can't actually register to vote over the phone.
Election Survey Scam
Consumers are targeted for personal information by claiming to be conducting a political poll or survey on behalf of one of the parties, a polling organization or even the news media. Generally, they choose a topic that is currently making headlines and offer a "too good to be true" reward for answering all their questions. After completing the survey, victims are told their reward will be mailed, but first, the caller needs credit card details to cover fees.
Polling companies conducting political surveys do not offer prizes, and keep in mind, free rewards are in fact free, thus do not have any costs associated with them. Legitimate companies will never ask for confidential information like bank account and credit card details. Continue to stay wary of this scam after the elections are over.
Vote By Phone Scam
Callers provide telephone voting options for the upcoming elections. The idea behind this scheme appears to be an attempt to stop groups of people from voting to influence the outcome of an election.
Election laws prevent telephone voting. Consumers must obtain an absentee ballot in advance when unable to make it to the polls.