Imitation is Annoying: States Warn of Scammers Impersonating TurboVote

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TurboVote has become one of the most popular vehicles for many Americans – especially young people – to register to vote and get information on the election process. Unfortunately, this year that growing popularity, and the “brand recognition” associated with it, has a downside: the emergence of scammers using TurboVote’s name and reputation to attempt to trick voters. Specifically. state election officials in several states are reporting that voters are receiving phone calls or text messages pretending to be TurboVote and asking voters to divulge personal information. The DeSoto, MS Times has more:

Several citizens in northeast Mississippi reported receiving suspicious phone calls from individuals inaccurately purporting to represent TurboVote.org, a voter registration service provided by Democracy Works, which advocates for voter participation across the nation.

The callers asked the citizens to register to vote over the phone, which requires providing the last four digits of a social security or full driver’s license number and date of birth. The callers also said citizens would be automatically provided an absentee ballot upon registering to vote.

Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann has repeatedly urged Mississippians not to provide personal information to individuals over the phone, whether it be for charitable giving, voter registration, or any other purpose.

“In Mississippi, a citizen can only register to vote by submitting an application in-person at a Circuit Clerk’s Office or by mailing a signed voter registration application to the Circuit Clerk’s Office,” Hosemann said. “After registering to vote, a voter must submit a written application for an absentee ballot, which must be obtained from the voter’s Circuit Clerk’s Office.”

The Secretary of State’s Office has confirmed with Democracy Works that the calls are not affiliated with Democracy Works or TurboVote, and TurboVote does not register individuals to vote over the phone.

There have been similar warnings in Georgia, Iowa, Maine, Washington and other states – indicating a scheme that appears to be widespread enough that TurboVote felt the need to respond:

It’s hard to know what to make of these scams. Is TurboVote’s profile is high enough that scammers think they can use it to gain voters’ trust, or is this an effort to discredit the service (which, as I mentioned, is popular with younger voters) in advance of the 2018 elections? Either way, it’s an unfortunate (and yes, Pink, annoying) form of imitation for an otherwise valuable service. Kudos to the team for their response so far; here’s hoping it’s just a blip in the service’s otherwise amazing growth. Stay tuned…

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