Hot button political issues are bringing a new twist to a frustrating scam. We have all received a robocall or two in our time. An unfamiliar number shows up on your phone and a recorded voice offers you an unbeatable deal or claims to be someone they are not. In a temper-raising twist, scammers use hotly-debated political issues to grab attention, and ultimately lead to losing one’s identity and even money. These con artists take advantage of buzzy, emotionally-charged news stories to trick unsuspecting consumers into falling for a scam. Make sure to spot the “red-flags” that come up and be cautious when dealing with these potential scam calls.
How the Scam Works
You receive a robocall and answer the phone. A recorded voice, perhaps even one that sounds like a prominent politician, and explains the purpose of the call. According to one local news story, the border wall is currently a popular topic for these calls. As the 2020 election campaign heats up, other topics will undoubtedly be used as “bait” to grab your interest.
If you go ahead and donate, your money won’t go to support the political cause mentioned in the call. Instead, the phony caller will make off with your money and maybe even your personal information which can then be used for identity theft.
How to Avoid Robocall Scams
- Screen your calls. If a call comes in from a number you don’t recognize, don’t answer. But even if the number looks familiar, be wary. Many scammers use programs to clone phone numbers so they appear to be coming from your local area code.
- Don’t respond to unsolicited calls. If you receive an unsolicited call that seems to come from a legitimate business, be cautious. Scammers can fake caller ID, and businesses are only allowed to call you if you give them permission. If someone is calling you out of the blue, it’s most likely a scam. Best practice is to hang up the phone without interacting with the caller. Don’t “press 1 to be removed from our list;” that just confirms to the scammer that your number is good.
- Register with the Do Not Call Registry. This step won’t prevent scammers from calling you, but it will reduce the number of legitimate marketing calls you receive, which will make it easier to identify the fraudulent ones. If you live in the US, call 888-382-1222 or register online at donotcall.gov.
For More Information
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 more about scams at BBB.org/ScamTips and learn how to avoid them at BBB.org/AvoidScams.