3 Election-Related Scams to Watch Out For in 2012
Campaign season is in full swing, and scam artists are stepping up their game. Many are trying to ride the coattails of the 2012 election to take your money and run.
Scammers typically try to make their pitches sound believable in an attempt to persuade victims to disclose personal financial information. That's why the 2012 election cycle, with hundreds of political groups seeking donations, could be a goldmine for crooks, according to the Better Business Bureau.
"Scammers use incentives based on what they think voters want to hear," a BBB spokeswoman told The Boston Globe.
You may recall the recent scam in which shady callers suggested President Barack Obama's bailout would cover people's utility bills. All they had to do was give up their Social Security and bank account numbers.
Similar to the utility scam, the Globe's report suggests three other types of election-related frauds that may trip up consumers. They are:
- Fundraising scams -- callers who pretend to be from a legitimate political group. In reality, this is just a cover for their real intent: to collect your credit-card or bank account information. Don't fall for it, the BBB warns. If the fundraising group is legitimate, they'll be happy to take your donation by mail or online.
- Voter registration scams -- typically designed to collect your Social Security number. Callers will ask to verify that you're a registered voter by asking for personal information. Genuine elections officials will never ask for this by phone, the BBB advises.
- Fake opinion polls -- some of which offer prizes like a free cruise in exchange for your participation in a fake survey. But in order to collect, you'll often be asked to pay "taxes" on your fabulous prize, with the goal of getting your credit-card number.
Of course, election-related phone scams are illegal, as are other types of telemarketing scams. Anyone contacted by a scammer should report it to the Federal Trade Commission which investigates fraud. Depending on the extent of the election scam, those behind such criminal campaigns could win themselves a lengthy term in prison.
- Telemarketing Fraud (FindLaw)
- Two Telemarketing Scams Shut Down by FTC (FindLaw's Common Law)
- Public Urged to Check Phone Card Fine Print (FindLaw's Common Law)
- Beware of Scams in Tornado Repair: Top 5 Tips for Homeowners (FindLaw's Common Law)
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