Better Business Bureau warns public of political candidate donation scams

Political Donation Scams

HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) - The Better Business Bureau is warning the public about scammers using the presidential election to take advantage of people.

If you get a call about donating to a candidate, the BBB wants you to be cautious.

It starts with a phone call, typically robocalls. The BBB said the scammer will use tactics to make you believe it’s real, like having a recording of the presidential candidates’ voice.

The messages will say to get your favorite candidate elected, you’ll need to donate immediately. If you agree to pay, then you’ll speak with someone live on the other line.

The Better Business Bureau lists three ways to avoid falling for a robocall scam:

  • Screen your calls. If a call comes in from a number you don’t recognize, 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. If you receive an unsolicited robocall that seems to come from a legitimate business, be cautious. Scammers can fake caller ID, and businesses are only allowed to call you via robocall with your written 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 call. 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 United States, call 888-382-1222 or register online at Donotcall.gov. If you live in Canada, visit the National Do Not Call List advice on what you can do to avoid falling victim to one of these scams.

Director of communications for the Better Business Bureau of Coastal Carolina, Renee Wikstrom, said there’s another way to spot one of the scams.

“Another scam that you’ll see is that they will call you and tell you that you’re going to win a prize if you donate to a certain candidate, and all you have to do to get the prize is pay shipping and handling,” Wikstrom said. “Well, candidates never give prizes. They are not about to pay for prizes to get your vote.”

So how can you know if your donation is going to the right hands?

Wikstrom recommends looking for the secure campaign website, which means you’ll see an “https” at the beginning of the web address.

She added it will have the phone number and email address for candidate contributions, this way you are 100% sure it’s going to the right place.

Wikstrom said scammers are targeting both the younger and older populations and if this happens to you, don’t be embarrassed but be sure to report it.

“If you find yourself scammed, always report it, report it on our scam tracker on BBB.org/scamtracker. You want to let the candidate know or his office know as well, this is something the FBI may be looking into,” she said.” So you want to let multiple sources know what’s going on so other people don’t fall pray to these scams”

When you report a scam on the BBB Scamtracker, they’ll ask for things like the phone number, the name of the business, or the email. They’ll also ask you a little more about how the scam happened.

The Scamtracker report gives you a fill-in section to share your story.

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