If a call from a shady debt collector named Charles Smith doesn’t get you rushing to your wallet, how about a call from the courthouse saying a warrant’s been issued for your arrest? Why? Because you failed to report for jury duty. But don’t worry; it’s probably all a misunderstanding. If you can just confirm your name and Social Security number and pay a small fine (all major credit cards welcome), they’ll have it cleared up in a jiffy.
This scam takes different forms, but always involves someone calling on official government business who needs you to provide some personal identifying information or requires payment, or both. Like telemarketers, they’re persistent and persuasive. The thing with official business is, it always sounds so…official. Unless you’re an attorney (and even then), you may not be familiar with the law or your rights. And you don’t want to get on the wrong side of the authorities, so you may comply first and ask questions later. They’re counting on it.
Like any good citizen, you’ve probably registered to vote. Scammers have found a way to turn even this noble civic duty into an opportunity to perpetrate a con. Falsely claiming to be from the board of elections, they call to “confirm” your eligibility to vote and registration information. To do it, they’ll need that all-important piece of information, your Social Security number. At this point, alarm bells should be sounding in your head. Any information you provide with regard to voting or election campaigns should be initiated by you and done directly with your local election board. In other words, you call them; they don’t call you. To locate contact information for your state and country election authorities, visit the Election Assistance Commission site, www.eac.gov, or call them at 1-866-747- 1471.