- Election scams are beginning to appear, prompting the FBI and Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) to warn consumers that spoofed internet domains and email accounts pose cyber and disinformation risks to voters.
- Scammers are also looking to trick voters by mimicking ballot-tracking text services.
- Identity thieves are seeking many different forms of personally identifiable information (PII), looking to commit malware attacks, and creating fake websites to collect PII or spread false or misleading information.
- Consumers should never share PII, respond to any unexpected messages until they have verified the website address, email address or text message link by checking with the legitimate source.
- For more information, or if you fell victim to an election scam, reach out to the Identity Theft Resource Center toll-free at 888.400.5530 or on our website via live-chat.
The general election is less than one month away, and scammers are aware. Multiple voting organizations are expressing concerns over fake election-related websites that look like official voting resources, but contain false or misleading information, as well as phishing emails that are designed to gather personally identifiable information (PII) or spread malware. Some states are also seeing scammers trying to trick voters with phony text messages, like in California, where they mimic ballot-tracking text services. The FBI and Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) want to help people spot and avoid every form of election scam.
Who It Is Targeting
Voters; Online device users
What It Is
Scammers are using many different tactics to try to trick voters:
- They create fake election-related websites to spread misinformation, confuse people, or trick voters into sharing personal information ahead of the November 3 elections. According to the FBI and CISA, election scams around fake websites aim to mislead voters and try to use interest around voting to steal people’s passwords. Scammers create websites that try to imitate election websites by altering one or two letters in the site’s address.
- Another election scam the FBI and CISA want people to be aware of is phishing emails. Scammers email voters from spoofed addresses that appear to come from election officials.
- Scammers are using text messages to attack, too. Some text messages claim they are from the United States Postal Service (USPS). Others look like they are from the Registrar of Voters asking consumers to take a survey or re-register to vote. Some even offer prizes for voting or registering to vote.
What They Are After
“There’s risk to you personally,” James Lee, Chief Operating Officer of the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC), told NBC 7 San Diego in an interview. “And in this case, because we’re talking about an election, there’s risk to our society. There’s risk to our country.”
All of these election scams try to steal usernames, passwords or email addresses. They lead to the collection of PII and spread malware, leading to the potential of more compromises and financial losses in the future.
What You Can Do
- Verify the spelling of all websites, email addresses or links in text messages. Make sure domains consist of http or https at the beginning of the domain, and .gov at the end if it is a government website.
- If you receive an unexpected or unsolicited email or text message, ignore it and do not click on any links. Go directly to the source to verify the validity of the message.
- Find election information from trustworthy websites, like the Election Assistance Commission.
- Make sure all of your applications are up-to-date and update your anti-virus and anti-malware systems.
- If possible, use two-factor authentication (2FA) on your accounts.
- Disable or remove unneeded applications from your devices.
If you believe you are a victim of an election scam or want to learn more, contact the ITRC to speak with an expert advisor toll-free at 888.400.5530. You can also live-chat with us on our company website.