Between the political ads and the news coverage, the 2020 United States presidential election is impossible to ignore. But voters aren’t the only ones paying attention. According to recent BBB Scam Tracker reports, scammers are using fake political fundraising calls to trick Americans into “donating” to a favorite candidate.
How the Scam Works
Victims will receive a robocall and answer the phone. It’s a recorded voice – perhaps even one that sounds just like one of the presidential candidates. According to the recording, rivals have been raising a lot of money. In order to see a favorite candidate elected, they need to donate immediately.
If they offer to donate, victims will be transferred to a live person and asked for their credit card information. But their money won’t go to support the political cause. Instead, the phony caller will make off with the money and/or personal information that can be used for identity theft. As the 2020 election campaign heats up, be on the lookout for more versions of this con.
How to Avoid Robocall Scams
• Screen calls. If a call comes in from a number that is not recognized, don’t answer. Even if the number looks familiar, be wary. Check the number on Whitepages.com (a BBB Accredited Business) to see if it’s been flagged with a fraud alert.
• Don’t respond to unsolicited robocalls and be cautious of unsolicited robocalls that seem to come from legitimate businesses. Scammers can fake the caller ID results, and businesses are only allowed to call via robocall with written permission. If someone is calling out of the blue, it’s most likely a scam. The best practice is to hang up the phone without interacting with the call. Don’t “press 1 to be removed from our list;” that could just confirm to the scammer that a number is valid.
• Register with the Do Not Call Registry. This step won’t prevent scammers from calling, but it will reduce the number of legitimate marketing calls received, which will make it easier to identify the fraudulent ones. Residents of the United States can call 888-382-1222 or register online at Donotcall.gov. Residents of Canada can visit the National Do Not Call List.
To learn more about how to avoid robocall scams, read BBB.org/RoboCall.
If you’ve been the victim of a robocall scam, report it on the BBB.org/ScamTracker. By doing so, you can help others protect themselves from falling prey to similar scams. Learn how to avoid them at BBB.org/AvoidScams.