Caring for a loved one? Find a part-time job that fits your schedule. Search the AARP Job Board.
by Sid Kirchheimer, AARP Bulletin, - September 22, 2008
The Democrats have their donkey. The Republicans have their elephant. And scammers want you as their pigeon. As the Nov. 4 election nears, ’tis the season of voter registration scams.
In the first of two parts, Scam Alert explores an age-old ruse: the phony voter registration scam. Next week we report on scammers who charge a fee for what you can do for free.
It can come via e-mail. Or through an after-dinner telephone call. Or even from a smiling “volunteer” at your door, eager to help you have your voice heard via a voting ballot.
The excuse from these impostors claiming to be from a local election board or civic group? They need your personal information—i.e., Social Security, credit card and bank account numbers—to “confirm” your current voting eligibility or to register you as a new voter.
The real goal: identity theft.
That’s why the Federal Trade Commission recently issued a warning about this age-old voter registration scam.
“We want to warn Americans because phishers and scammers are so good at exploiting what’s in the news and what’s on people’s mind. They have no shame,” FTC spokesman Nat Wood tells Scam Alert.
Wood says there is no data on how common this scam is, but he adds it occurs in most elections—and is especially rampant during a presidential race. A similar warning was issued in 2004.
In reality, states and municipalities have their own rules about the use of Social Security numbers for voter registration—some require it, others do not—but personal financial information is never required.
Although legitimate volunteers do go door-to-door to register voters, they will always leave you a bona fide form to fill out yourself, and will not ask for your personal information. Attempts to get such data via an e-mail or telephone call are likely outright attempts at identity theft, say officials.
Meanwhile, voter registration forms are available from your city, county or township clerk or election board, or through those offices’ websites. Post offices, schools, libraries and other taxpayer-funded facilities often have registration forms as well.
Alternatively, register on the website of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, a federal agency. Most states accept this form.
Typically, registration deadlines to vote in November’s election are early to mid-October.
If you already have provided personal data via a voter registration scam, report it to the FTC or call 1-888-382-4357 toll free.
Sid Kirchheimer is the author of Scam-Proof Your Life (AARP Books/Sterling).
Please leave your comment below.
You must be logged in to leave a comment.
Members save 25% on their first healthy meal delivery order of 99+.
Exclusive program for members from The Hartford.
Get tips and resources to protect yourself from fraud and see the latest scam alerts in your state.
AARP members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.
You are leaving AARP.org and going to the website of our trusted provider. The provider’s terms, conditions and policies apply. Please return to AARP.org to learn more about other benefits.
Your email address is now confirmed.
Manage your email preferences and tell us which topics interest you so that we can prioritize the information you receive.
Explore all that AARP has to offer.
In the next 24 hours, you will receive an email to confirm your subscription to receive emails
related to AARP volunteering. Once you confirm that subscription, you will regularly
receive communications related to AARP volunteering. In the meantime, please feel free
to search for ways to make a difference in your community at