It’s election year, which means the news is moving fast! You may feel like you’re being constantly inundated with political emails and phone calls. This information-overload creates a perfect distraction for cybercriminals to set new scams into motion. Remember, always take time to recognize red flags before clicking an unsolicited link, or giving out any personal information.
Let’s talk about PAC Scams
Political Action Committees (PACs) are private organizations that raise money to influence elections, especially at the federal level. PAC scams prey on citizens who care about the issues. They may claim to donate to a political party that you affiliate with, or work to push through certain legislations that you feel passionately about. In reality, they could be spending donations on a trip to Belize or Miami Beach.
How do I tell the difference between a legitimate PAC and a scam?
Check to make sure that the PAC is registered with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) in Washington. You can look up candidate and committee profiles on FEC.gov/data. If you’re considering donating to a PAC, be wary of the payment method. Wire transfers are often used by scammers to make the transaction less traceable. Never send money to a solicitor in the form of a gift card.
Do you want to make sure your senator of choice receives your contribution? If you have a specific political campaign in mind that you wish to donate to, visit the candidate’s official website.
I think I may have donated to a fraudulent PAC, now what?
Immediately report the financial loss with your bank and close or change any compromised accounts. In addition, be sure to report the scam to the FBI/IC3. While you may not be able to get your money back, reporting the issue helps provide a better understanding of cybercrime as a whole, so that specific scams can be addressed properly. For more recovery guidance, visit FightCybercrime.org.
This blog was written by Aric Bird, one of CSN’s past marketing interns, and an Eastern Michigan University student pursuing a master’s in Communications.