AARP’s Fraud Watch Network has issued an alert on 5 voter scams that we can expect to see with the coming November election. Posing as pollsters, political parties, and Political Action Committees (PAC’s), scammers are after your money and your identity. The alert points out, under the guise of a political organization, the scammers can skirt the Do No Call Registry (https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0108-national-do-not-call-registry).
The alert warns of 5 scams:
1. Survey Swindle. Posing as pollsters, scammers may ask questions that you would expect. But then questioning may become more sensitive, asking about your income, medications, etc. They may offer a prize for participating, which legitimate pollsters do not do. The aim is to gather your personal information to use or sell, or to install malware on your computer.
2. Phony fund-raising. Posing as a political party, candidate representative or representing a cause, scammers will ask for donations. AARP recommends that you do not give money to anyone over the phone, email, or to someone at your front door. If you want to donate, contact the political party or candidate directly or through their website.
3. Registration Ruses. Scammers may call offering to update or confirm your voter registration. They are really looking for your personal information to conduct identity theft. Sometimes they ask for credit card information as part of the “confirmation” process. Real canvassers will leave forms for you to fill out and send in. Better yet, you can update or change your voter registration directly with the county at: http://www.snohomishcountywa.gov/224/Elections-Voter-Registration.
4. Vote by Phone. You may receive a call offering to allow you to vote by phone. Elections laws do not allow voting by phone. This scam tries to collect personal information. It also could charge large per-minute calling fees. In Snohomish County, voters vote with mail in ballots. The county auditor’s office sends out ballots before Election Day. Voters can return the ballots by mail, drop them off at drop boxes throughout the county, or bring their ballots directly to the elections office in Everett. For more information go to http://www.snohomishcountywa.gov/Faq.aspx?TID=16,.
5. Petition Ploys. While not common, sometimes scammers will pose as signature gatherers for petitions on hot-button issues. The scammer’s real goal is to collect names, addresses and phone numbers for sales calls and ID theft. Page 10 of the “Filing Initiatives and Referenda in Washington State” specifies information to be collected from petition signers (http://www.sos.wa.gov/_assets/elections/Initiative%20and%20Referenda%20Manual.pdf).