Scams are heating up with a torrent of midterm elections’ political robocalls and robotexts.
Spam-blocking service provider RealCall reveals that robocalls and robotexts have doubled over the last month. Political robocalls and robotexts increased by 24% month-over-month ahead of the midterm elections, which is one reason for the substantial increase. RealCall warns of scams in the midterm elections as well. Scammers send phishing websites to people by massive robotexts, which disguise official campaign websites (fake Republican Party donation pages and fake Democratic Party donation pages) to steal money and personal details.
“They text and call me every day,” said Godfery Augustine, who lives in Tampa, Florida.
Godfery Augustine and his wife said they received dozens of political messages and phone calls.
When asked whether these calls and texts would sway his vote, he said, “No, absolutely not. We do see quite many legitimate nuisance political robocalls and robotexts. But scammers are getting in on the act as well. We see issues of misinformation, presenting that misinformation to the consumer and malicious activity, trying to steal their identity.”
There are more fraudulent messages and deceptive content than in the past. The same thing happened to most of his friends. “It’s terrible. These political robocalls and fraud content are unbearable,” said Willie Kellogg, Godfery Augustine’s colleague.
As the Better Business Bureau recently warned, scam artists are gearing up for the midterm elections. Recently, we’ve seen examples of phony phone calls and phony websites seeking donations, and there may be more to come. Here are some 2022 political election scams you need to avoid while casting your vote for your candidates.
What are Election Scammers Aiming at?
Scammers are apt to employ ANY hot topic as a hook to catch the gullible, tricking people into downloading malware, giving up personal information, money, or both. You might receive a message that looks like it came from a trusted source, inviting you to participate in a poll or donate. The BBB said tricksters might be out to get your passwords, account numbers, social security number, or other data. The BBB has tips on how to identify a fake text message.
How to Spot an Election Scam?
- Campaign fundraising scam
Phone calls, texts, and emails purporting to be from an election committee or political representative may seem legitimate if they know your political affiliation and their caller ID or sender name looks like it’s from a political organization. Before you donate, please write down the contact information and research the organization online to confirm that it’s a legitimate organization. You may want to consider giving directly through an official website rather than on the phone but ensure the page where you enter your credit card is secure.
- Voter registration scam
Claims that you need to register again for absentee ballots or haven’t voted since the last election can be dismissed. You only need to register anew if you move to a new address. Don’t provide personal information to register until you’ve checked with the state or local election board to determine whether your registration is on file.
- Election survey scam
Calls asking you to participate in a survey regarding a political campaign are widespread, and you’re not obligated to answer. But they should never ask you for your bank, credit card, or other sensitive personal financial information. If they say you might win a prize but must enter your credit card to cover taxes, it’s probably a scam, and you shouldn’t give them the information.
- Vote by a phone scam
The only legal method of voting in an election is at an official polling place, the election board, or by mailing in an absentee ballot obtained from the election board. If you receive a phone call asking you to vote over the phone, hang up.
This scam uses real audio clips of candidates’ voices, likely lifted from speeches or media interviews. Digital technology has made these recordings sound very realistic. At some point, the candidate will ask for a donation and request that you push a button to be redirected to an agent, who will collect your credit card information. Since they use pre-recorded calls, it’s challenging to tell which ones are fake.
BBB reminds consumers to be skeptical when they receive unsolicited phone calls, texts, or emails seeking money or asking for other personal information. If you suspect a scammer has solicited you, report it to local law enforcement, the state attorney general’s office, or BBB. If you suspect voting fraud, report it to the local election board.
Tips to Avoid Election Scams
People should follow these other tips to avoid election-related scams:
- Watch for spoofed calls with a third-party app
Your Caller ID may say that someone from a campaign office. Remember, scammers can fake the number by using spoofing technology. Use a third-party spam-blocking app like the RealCall app if you get spam calls. The best part of this app is that it automatically blocks calls from entities it believes to be a nuisance or likely fraudsters.
RealCall helps you know who is calling and decide whether to answer. When customers receive a call from a verified business outside of their saved contacts, when applicable, the caller ID will display categories like School, Hospital, or Police Service. Otherwise, if the call is suspicious, it gives you some information on why you probably don’t want to answer the call, such as labeling the caller as a telemarketer or suspected spam.
With RealCall, you can create your blocklist and allowlist, depending on your settings. You can block specific area codes and prefixes or block some keywords like cryptocurrency related. And you can customize your caller ID categories like Healthcare, Public Service, Telemarketer, Nonprofit, Political, and Survey.
- Donate directly to the campaign office
Donations made over the phone can be valid, but to be sure you are donating directly to the campaign, donors should give either through the candidates’ official website or at a local campaign office.
- Beware of prize offers.
Just hang up on any political pollster who claims you can win a prize for participating in a survey. Political survey companies rarely use prizes, which is a red flag (especially if they ask you to pay for shipping or taxes to claim it).
- Don’t give out personal or banking information.
Political pollsters may ask for information about your vote, political affiliation, and even demographic information such as your age or race. Still, they don’t need your Social Security number or credit card information.
- Research fundraising organizations before donating
Be especially cautious of links that come to you through email or social media, and don’t click through. Instead, go directly to an organization’s website by typing the URL in your browser or using a search engine.