I-Team: When it comes to donations, scammers have a way with words, your money


With the election cycle heating up, the Better Business Bureau issued a warning: Scammers will take advantage of people trying to support their candidates.

In a post on its website, the BBB said recent scam tracker reports show complaints about political fundraising calls that convince people to donate to a favorite candidate — only the money is not going to the candidate.

How the scam works:

You receive a robocall and answer the phone. It’s a recorded voice, perhaps even one that sounds like one of the presidential candidates.

The BBB said the recording often explains that rivals have been raising a lot of money. So, to see your favorite candidate elected, you need to donate immediately.

If you offer to give, you’ll be transferred to a live person and asked for your credit card information.

In the scams, the BBB said, your money won’t go to support the political cause. Instead, the phony caller will make off with your money and/or personal information that can be used for identity theft.

The BBB said people should be on the lookout for more versions of this con as we continue the 2020 election campaign cycle.

While the scam is nationwide, Troy Baker, manager of BBB Communications in Grand Rapids said Michiganders can expect to be especially targeted. The state is expected to have a lot of pull in the upcoming presidential election, so those living in the state have already been flooded with political messaging, most of which are legitimate.

"You're probably gonna get a bunch of phone calls," Baker said.

To avoid scammers, Baker said, do not answer your phone if you do not recognize the incoming caller's phone number. If you do pick up and are asked to donate to a campaign, Baker said, make sure you do your research.

"If somebody does call you and says we're with candidate X's campaign and we would like your support and they want you to donate, take their information and then look it up somewhere else," Baker said.

He suggested visiting the actual website of whatever campaign name is being used over the phone to double-check.

The fake calls might sound real. Baker said this is because it's so common for politicians and campaigns to call voters and ask for their information and support.

It is legal for politicians and campaigns to call people who are on the National Do Not Call Registry.

"Now, when it comes to other robocalls, things that aren't from actual campaigns that's where it starts to become more illegal," Baker said.

He said to report any suspected scamming incidents to the BBB on its website.