With presidential campaign going prime time, it’s time to put up your deflector shields for election year scams.
Scammers angle for opportunities when their pitches will seem most believable and close enough to the background noise that consumers are less likely to filter them out. One such tactic is the phony public opinion poll.
Scam polls offer a reward while legitimate ones won’t. The Better Business Bureau says it has heard of robocalls offering a free cruise as an enticement for taking a faux survey. The ploy is meant to get your debit or credit card information to pay the taxes and fees for the trip you didn’t really win.
“Scammers use incentives based on what they think voters want to hear,” said Paula Fleming, spokeswoman for BBB that serves Eastern Massachusetts, Maine, Rhode Island and Vermont.
Fundraising for candidates is another area where people can fall prey to election time scams. If the caller is believable – and they certainly can be –it’s not a big leap to offer up credit card or checking account information to someone you think is soliciting for a favorite candidate or cause.
There’s an easy defense for that: Don’t give out your personal and financial information to a caller. If they’re on the up and up, they’ll be happy for you to send your contribution through the mail or make it online. If you’re going to make a contribution, you want to be sure it’s going where you want it to go.
Similarly, the BBB warns of another tactic, a caller seeking to verify that you’re registered to vote. As persuasive as the caller might seem on the phone, you’re not going to get a legitimate call asking to confirm your status as a voter, let alone try to get you to provide your Social Security Number.
Remember that all these cons, designed to steal your identity or collect your money, can be defended if you hang onto your identity and financial information and only give it to who you want, when you want.
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About the author
Mitch Lipka is one of America's leading consumer journalists and advocates. He is an expert in product safety, recalls, scams, and helping consumers get out of jams. He is a nationally known consumer columnist and runs TheConsumerChronicle.com. He lives in Worcester. You can find him on Facebook or reach him at ConsumerNews@Aol.com