Scammers are already taking advantage of this year’s Presidential election with robocalls offering a “free cruise” for taking a political survey or with promises that President Obama will pay utility bills. Better Business Bureau (BBB) advises voters to be on the lookout for the growing number of scams that will most likely continue leading up to the Presidential election.
“Scammers use incentives based on what they think voters want to hear,” BBB President Brian Baca said. “Hot topics like health care, economic recovery and unemployment, are sure to be the alluring topics during this election season, but it can also include current events that make the pitch sound more realistic.”
BBB provides voters a few election-related scams to look-out for now through November.
• There will not be a “free cruise” at the end of the voting survey. The public opinion poll scam typically involves a recorded announcement offering a “free cruise” in exchange for participating in a telephone survey. At the end of the call 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 order to verify the caller’s identity are subject to high-pressure tactics, such as being told the offer “is only good right now,” and that if they hang up they will be disqualified.
• President Obama is not going to pay utility bills. Consumers have been contacted through fliers, social media, text messages, and even door-to-door with claims that President Obama is providing credits or applying payments to utility bills. Scammers claim they need the consumer’s Social Security and bank routing numbers to arrange payments. In return, customers receive a bank routing number to pay their utility bills. In the end, customers discover they have not really paid their bills because the bank account number was phony and they maybe now become vulnerable to identity fraud.
• Fundraising calls for political donations may not be real. Consumers have reported calls from organizations that sound legitimate, but may not really be related to either the Obama or Romney campaigns. If uncertain, BBB does not recommend donating over the phone but instead contacting the campaign directly to make a donation. Requesting a callback number is no guarantee you will be connected with a legitimate campaign fundraising committee. Call or visit candidates’ websites to obtain contact information to make donation.
Legitimate polling companies will never offer prizes for participating in a telephone survey, nor ask for a credit card number. Never provide your Social Security number, credit card number or banking information to anyone requesting it over the phone or at your home unless you initiated the contact or feel confident with whom you are speaking. Do not give in to high pressure tactics, whether over the phone or in person.