Scam Artists Allegedly Targeting Thousands of Voters by Phone - KWES NewsWest 9 / Midland, Odessa, Big Spring, TX: |

Scam Artists Allegedly Targeting Thousands of Voters by Phone

By: Julia Deng  

NewsWest 9

MIDLAND - With early voting underway and Election Day just one week away, the Better Business Bureau is warning Permian Basin voters about election-related telephone scams.

"Scam artists are calling thousands of people [and] taking advantage of election season to ask for personal information and credit card numbers," said Tyler Patton, a BBB Regional Director based in Midland.

He estimates up to ten percent of people who pick up these phone calls will become victims of identity theft or credit card fraud.

According to Patton, common scams include calls claiming to be from people collecting campaign donations; taking political surveys; re-registering voters; and letting voters cast their ballots by phone.

Scammers allegedly prey on people who aren't aware that Midland County residents can only vote by mail or at an official polling location, seizing the opportunity to ask for names, birth dates, home addresses, social security numbers and credit card information.

 These phone calls often start with a phony introduction and background information about a political party or candidate, according to the BBB.

"And then they're going to say, 'Don't you want to support this person who wants to support X, Y and Z?'" explained Patton. "And that's when they start asking you for your personal information."

He urges people to do their own research and call back if they're interested in making a contribution - and to fire back with their own questions.

"Scam artists don't like questions. They want you to just respond to what they're saying and answer the questions they're asking you. However, somebody doing something legitimate and trustworthy? They love having questions and they love answering your questions. They want to talk about their candidate and what they're trying to get you to involve yourself in."

He estimates "several thousand" people throughout the Basin have already been called by scam artists this election season and "many more" will be targeted during the next week.

"The scary thing is people might not know they're victims [of credit card fraud or identity theft] until months later," said Patton.

 No reports or complaints about election-related telephone scams have been filed this year with the County Clerk or the Elections Office.

"It is certainly possible [the BBB is correct] and some victims don't know they're victims yet," said Deborah Land, the Midland County Elections Administrator.

"But maybe voters out here in West Texas are a little smarter than the other counties in Texas and are not going to fall for that."

Anybody who receives a suspicious call from a possible scam artist is urged to contact the County Clerk at (432) 688-4401.

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