RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – When it comes to politics, even scammers are involved.
No — they aren’t supporting candidates, but they are trying to use the process to try and steal money or personal information.
When it comes to politicians, everyone is vying for our attention, TV ads, roadside signs or even mailers.
There’s also one more way candidates are reaching out, and that’s through text messages, and scammers know it.
“The scammers are looking to take full advantage of what is top of mind right now,” Telecommunications expert George Cray said, who is a senior vice president at Iconectiv.
Since research shows 98 percent of text messages are opened, that makes scammers pretty confident they’re going to get their message seen, and probably acted upon.
“They’re going to build some sort of urgency around the messages they send to get you to act fast,” Cray said.
How can the average person tell if it’s a legitimate political text from a candidate or a scam?
It’s all about the numbers.
“Many texts come in ten digit phone numbers and those ten digits could be anybody,” Cray said.
You need to look for texts that come with a five or six-digit code instead of a phone number, known as SMS Short Code.
“Brands and candidates have to actually apply and lease those numbers and go through a vetting process in order to get those,’’ Cray said.
Scammers pretending to be candidates may ask for money, personal information or even embed links in their texts.
“When they are looking for personal data, that’s a red flag that this is a scammer,” Cray said. “They’re looking for information like date of birth or credit card info, and things like that.”
Now not all campaigns register their texts with an SMS Short Code. Some will still text via a phone number. However, if you get a text like that, you need to be wary.
“There’s no way to validate that and you really can’t trust it,” Cray said.
If you think you’ve gotten a scam text, you can report it by forwarding the text to 7726, the numerical equivalent of SPAM.
“7726 will get sent to a monitoring service on behalf of the shortcode registry and they will investigate on behalf of mobile operators,” Cray said.
If you get a text asking you to click a link to donate to a candidate, don’t do it online.
Instead, contact the campaign directly to find out the best way to give your candidate a donation.