Watch out for phishy political calls |

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Watch out for phishy political calls

Beware of political polling calls that promise gift cards in exchange for taking a voter survey. Survey cons are common, but the U.S. presidential campaign gives scammers a timely elections twist.

How the scam works:

You get a call from someone claiming to be conducting a political survey. The pollster wants to ask you questions about the upcoming presidential election. In exchange for a few minutes of your time and your opinions, you will get a gift card or other reward.

It sounds easy. But after you answer several legitimate-sounding survey questions, the caller typically asks you to provide your credit card number. Allegedly, you need to pay for the shipping and taxes of the “prize” you’ve won.

Providing your credit card number and personal information to scammers opens you up to the risk of additional fraudulent charges and identity theft. Legitimate polling companies rarely offer prizes for participating in a survey, and none would ask for a credit card number.

How to avoid a campaign con:

This campaign season, cons abound. Watch out for scammers’ most popular tricks:

• Donate directly to the campaign office: Donations made over the phone can be valid, but wary donors should give to a campaign either through the candidate’s official website or at a campaign office.

• Watch for spoofed calls: Your caller ID may say that someone from Washington, D.C., is contacting you, but scammers can fake this using phone number spoofing technology.

• Polling companies don’t offer prizes: Just hang up on any political pollster who claims that you can win a prize for participating in a survey.

• Legitimate polls won’t ask for personal or banking information: Political pollsters may ask for information about your vote or political affiliation, but they don’t need your Social Security number or credit card info.

• Research fundraising organizations before donating: Be especially cautious of links that come to you through email or social media, and don’t click through. Instead, go directly to an organization’s website by typing the URL in your browser or using a search engine.

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