We are in the midst of one of the most contentious election cycles in American history. Most likely, you are receiving countless emails, phone calls and texts regarding the presidential election in addition to all of the down-ballot races. Every candidate wants your vote, and your money. With the sheer abundance of information being thrown at us, it is easy to be caught off guard by a bogus website or “campaign”. Many Americans are emotionally invested in this election and want to help out their candidates of choice. However, scammers are using the election to steal personal information. If you’re not careful, you could willingly set yourself up for identity theft.
Election Scams On The Rise
The FBI recently alerted Americans about election “spoofing,” where a bogus campaign, PAC or candidate creates a website or email that is almost identical to a legitimate one. For instance, the website address may be the same as a legitimate campaign but will end in .com instead of .gov. If you aren’t diligent about vetting the sources of these messages, you could easily be taken advantage of.
Another way scammers are looking to target voters is by calling their voter registration into question. If you receive a call or email stating that there is an issue with your voter registration or asking you to register to vote, do not click on any links. Instead, contact your local election officials. The Associated Press reports that in 2018, scammers pretended to represent TurboVote, a non-profit voting advocacy group, by calling people in several states asking for them to register to vote. In a statement to AP, spokeswoman Tanene Allison said, “TurboVote doesn’t call. You’ll never get a call from us. If you’re hearing something and you can’t verify the source, always check with your local election officials.”
What To Watch For
- Never click on a link in an email or text without first researching where the message came from. For instance, if the message comes from a political action committee (or PAC), take the time to vet the source. If the organization doesn’t have a phone number or address, this is possibly a scam.
- If someone asks you to register to vote, contact your local election officials in order to verify your voter registration.
- Never give out personal, credit card or bank account information to unknown sources.
- Carefully inspect the email and website addresses of solicitors for intentional misspellings. Many fraud emails are very convincing and catching a website or email address misspelling can often be the only tell-tale sign.
- If you wish to donate to a specific candidate or organization, take the time to go to their official website. Following links in unsolicited emails can set you up to become a victim of fraud.
Due to the maelstrom of political information we’re currently swimming through, it’s best to take caution with everything you read or receive. Scammers are using the election to steal personal information and you don’t want to become a victim.