2020 Election interest used by scammers to target voters, steal personal information

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Security experts say scammers are preying on interest in the 2020 presidential election to try to steal personal information.

There are several different schemes that try to take advantage of interest in the election to get you to give away too much personal information.

"They're using the election as a pretext usually to get you to click," said Alex Hamerstone, a cybersecurity expert at TrustedSec. "So, so things like looking for information or trying to get bank account data, etc. And a lot of that is through things like fake polling, or fake surveys, you know; keep in mind that if someone's polling you or a survey, they certainly don't need your bank account data. They don't need your credit card number for that. "

Hamerstone said his team is getting reports of these scams throughout the country.

"We have a whole research department where we monitor the dark web, we monitor these trends," he said.

There's also a warning from the FBI about domain names on emails and websites which are made to look official. They may use the word "election" misspelled or use a .com instead of a .gov domain. These fake websites or false election related emails can install malware, or ask you for detailed personal information.

Hamerstone said fake pollsters are also reaching out any way they can.

"So it's text you're getting them by email, you're getting them by you know snail mail. And you're even getting the phone calls," he explained. "And then also, you know, some of these scams could be in person. So maybe somebody's standing on the street corner collecting, you know, fake petition data, and really seeking to get more personal data from people."

There are also voter registration scams in which criminals may reach out to you asking for your social security number, date of birth, or a payment to register to vote. The U.S. Election Assistance Commission issued an alert on it.

Also, if donating to a campaign make sure you're really giving money to the politician, not someone posing as one.

The biggest scams are fake polling, fake requests for donations and fake voter registration, Hamerstone said.

"Those are the big ones. Also, when whenever they're collecting data for one of these fake, you know things. They can very easily use that data to steal your identity as well," he added.

There are many different versions of these scams but the easy thing to remember is you should never be giving out detailed, personal information to anyone who reaching out to you.

If you have any questions or doubts about a call or email, you should call your local board of elections.
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