It is that time again! Elections… This is the time we get passionate about our beliefs, views and favorite candidates. Time for the politicians to put on a likable facade and try to convince us that they are the best for the job. But it is also the perfect opportunity for scammers to take advantage of us. The amount of Election Scams is bound to go up.
Just last week, I received an email-which was spam, but got through the spam filtering system- stating that I could register to vote through email. All I had to do is to download the attached voter registration form and email it back. Well, if I didn’t know any better, I would have clicked on that attachment. But I know better! Most likely, that attachment carried some type of malware.
As we get closer to the elections, the number of scams will go up. The politicians really want your money, but the scammers want it even more. They will come up with very creative ways to get it!
What you should watch out for
- Emails claiming to be from legitimate governmental agencies asking to download attachments with the voter registration forms. The attachments are simply malicious files sent with a purpose of infecting your computer with some type of malware.
- Emails purporting to be from a Voter Registration Office instructing the recipients to follow a link in order to register to vote, update the voter registration information, resolve any voter issues, etc. The links actually lead to websites that install malware or phishing websites that collect personal sensitive information.
- Emails with scandalous absurd statements about candidates, which contain attachments of “videos” supporting such claims or links to the evidence. Those attachments and links are malicious.
- Fake fundraising calls or emails from fake campaign offices asking for campaign contributions.
- Phone calls claiming to be from a Voter Registration office offering a free cruise for answering a few poll questions. Then, asking for a credit card number at the end of the call to “cover” any “fees” associated with the cruise. There is no free cruise; instead, the thieves will go on a wild shopping spree.
- Phone calls stating that there are some problems with the voter information and it needs to be verified. The scammers, then, request a Social Security Number and other personal information.
- Scammers -pretending to be volunteers appointed to register voters- may even go door to door or set up fake voter registration booths. In these cases, the potential victims will be requested to provide a Social Security number and financial accounts information. There are states that still require Social Security numbers on voter registrations, but there is no state Voter Registration Office that will ask for financial information.
What you should do to protect yourself
- Never download any attachments or follow any links in unsolicited emails.
- Never give out your information over the phone and never respond to emails asking for your personal information. Remember, you cannot register to vote or update your voter registration over the phone or via email. You must do so in person.
- If you would like to make a contribution to your favorite candidate, contact that candidate’s local campaign office.
- If someone comes knocking on your door claiming to be a volunteer or you get approached by one on the street asking you to register to vote, ask for proof and ID for the organization they are volunteering for. Better yet,
- Visit your local official elections office to register or update your voter information.
- If you get a call promising any free cruises or vacations, hang up.
Can you think of any other scams during elections that I didn’t mention? Do you have more suggestions on how to protect yourself from election scams? Have you ever been scammed during elections?
You know what to do, write your thoughts, opinions and suggestions in the comment section below.