HOUSTON - Is your phone ringing off the hook with political robocalls? Are your text messages blowing up?
Analysts predict it's about to get worse on election day, and a growing number of them are looking to dupe you.
Texans have received 707,440 robocalls in the last three months, and Americans got hit with 8 million robocalls on Election Day 2020, according to Transaction Network Services, which analyzes robocall and robotext trends. (TNS offers a deeper dive into robocall scams by state here.)
While campaign calls and text messages to get your vote and donations have been ramping up, TNS says so, too, have deceptive calls and texts. It says in its 2020 election survey, 54% of Americans believe robocalls and texts were used to undermine confidence in that election.
"Instances of miscommunication, misinformation being shared that's generating suspicion by the voter of what is the actual truth, regarding polls being open, rules and regulations and the like," said John Haraburda, who heads up the TNS Identity and Protection Unit.
Plus, he and the Better Business Bureau warn that scammers are also posing as political campaigns to steal your identity.
Now you're probably thinking, my number's on the Do Not Call Registry. But that's for commercial calls.
Here are the FCC rules for political calls, so you can spot the rule breakers. They cannot call your cell phone with auto-dialed or pre-recorded messages without your consent, but they can call your landline without consent. And the caller and the phone number must be identified.
"Which includes, 'This is brought to you by this candidate, authorized by this party.' So without that communication recorded in that message, that’s actually an illegal robocall," explained Haraburda.
The Better Business Bureau says these are the scams to watch out for:
The Campaign Fundraising Scam. They may know your political affiliation, spoof the caller ID to look like it's a real campaign calling, or play recordings of an actual candidate speaking. The red flag?
"If you’re getting a call, you probably shouldn’t be giving them credit card information, or validating your address, or providing your first and last name," said Haraburda. If you want to donate to a campaign, contact the campaign directly yourself.
There are also Election Survey Scams. Real pollsters may ask for your party affiliation, how you voted, your age or race, but if they ask for your credit card, saying you could win a prize, that's a red flag.
And there are Voter Registration Scams, saying you need to register again, and the Vote by Phone Scam. But you cannot vote by phone. Period.
"It’s not rude to hang up on them, and it’s not rude to not click on the link on a text message," suggested Haraburda.
You can forward spam text messages to the FCC at 7726 or "SPAM."