Scammers Send Fake Mail-In Ballot Error Messages to Steal Information
November 2, 2020
By Tim Russell
Technology Services Manager
Did you get a message saying there's an error with your mail-in ballot?
How about a phone call from someone claiming to be from your local election office?
Chances are, these are scams.
The FTC says voting scammers are out in force this election season, and thieves are posing as election officials to get your information. They'll send a fake call, texts or email telling you that your vote won't count or there's an error on your ballot. Then they'll send you a link to a phishing website, or ask you to submit personal information to "verify" it's you. Ignore these messages. They are scams.
Often times, the messages include a link that'll take you to a site asking for you personal information to "check the status" of your ballot. It's a trick, meant to steal your identity.
An actual election official will rarely reach out to contact you. On the off chance that a legitimate one does, they will not ask for your personal information — especially not your social security number or any financial information. And they will NEVER tell you that you need to vote in person to make sure your vote counts.
If you want to check the status of your mail-in ballot, you should always do it yourself. To find your local election office, visit the official USA.Gov website.
More Voter & Election Related Identity Scams
Here are a few other types of scams to watch for during this election season.
» Voter Registration Scams
Voter registration drives provide perfect cover for scammers. If someone sends you a message, claiming to be from a voter registration drive, and asks for your social security or credit card number to "confirm" your eligibility, it's a scam. As a rule, legitimate voter registration drives will either contact you face-to-face or give you a voter registration form to fill out and mail in yourself. They will NEVER ask you to provide your financial information.
To register to vote, contact your local election office directly or visit the U.S. Election Assistance Commission website to find your local office.
» Polling & Survey Scams
The Better Business Bureau has warned about scammers pretending to be pollsters. In exchange for your opinion, they'll offer some sort of gift card or other reward. Then, after asking all sorts of legitimate-sounding political questions, they'll ask you for your credit card or account number to pay for shipping, taxes or another fee for the "prize" you've just won. Legitimate polling companies will never ask for your personal or financial information.
» Impersonator Scams
Scammers will pretend to be politicians or their campaigns, to trick you into "donating" to their campaign. If you get a call from someone who sounds like a candidate — maybe even the president — be suspicious. Scammers can use real audio clips of politicians' voices, and use them to ask for a political contribution. To make sure your money ends up in the right spot, it's best to donate directly to your candidate's campaign office by calling or visiting their website yourself.
If you spot a scam, report it to the FTC online at www.FTC.gov or by phone at 1-877-FTC-HELP. If you have already shared your personal information with someone you don't know, visit www.ftc.gov/IDTheft to consider your next steps.
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