Watch for potential dangers in upcoming election

Nolan Swenson, Sports Co-Editor

The Wisconsin Better Business Bureau (BBB) is warning about potential dangers in the midterm election due to heightened tensions and political camps making it more likely that people will open a facetious email. 

“An election’s approach always seems to turn up the emotional heat across the nation, but the United States 2022 midterm elections are no exception … And when emotions run high, bad actors look for ways to use peoples’ passion to trick them,” a BBB press release states.

The Wisconsin BBB gave several examples of how to protect yourself from scams coming from emails, calls and texts.

When it comes to emails, it seems that once your name is known, the emails from candidates are either hoping to sway your support or understand your grievances with them and their opponents. Due to the high volume of emails being sent, it is possible  that a scam email may be caught up in the political tide. The BBB’s advice is to move cautiously when it comes to links to given sites.

Katie Pulvermacher / The Advance-Titan

Be especially careful of emails with links. Phishing emails might include a link that takes users to a spoofed version of a candidate’s website or installs malware on your device,” the BBB said. “Use BBB’s tips for spotting an email scam to be sure it’s real. [And] if you want to receive more information or visit a site, it’s better to type the official website address into your browser.”

Phone call scams during election season become far more tricky, as candidates may use automated callers in order to mass produce messages to constituents. These scams become exponentially more complicated to identify if you don’t not know what a legitimate caller may need to know or say. To these gaps of knowledge, the BBB offers three items of guidance.

Scammers may ask survey questions, and go on to ask for your personal information like your social security number or birthdate. Not even a legitimate caller has reason to ask you those questions.

Another tactic over the phone is to ask for donations, and once you’ve given them your account info, they’ve won.

A final tactic is offering to register you to vote over the phone. Although voter registration methods have become more advanced, there is no option in any state to register to vote over the phone.

When it comes to texts, or ‘smishing,’ “citizens might receive a message that looks like it came from a trusted source, inviting them to participate in a poll or make a donation. Read more about smishing and how to identify a fake text message.”

Two tactics used by smishers are the fake problem and a false vote. In the fake problem, a scammer will ask if you made a donation to a political candidate, and if you say you haven’t, will ask for your account information in order to cancel the false donation. 

The false vote offers to let you vote by text, which in no way is a real thing. Once it convinces you that you voted, you then will not go to the polls, effectively robbing you of your vote.

Being aware of how to protect yourself online is important at any time of the year. However, when political advertisements and surveys are mixed in, it can be incredibly hard to manage it all. By following the Wisconsin BBB’s guide and treading cautiously, you can help protect yourself and those around you.