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Identity thieves try voter registration

No state requires bank, credit card information for voter's identity.

Monday, October 27, 2008 - 10:57 am

If voters are not careful, election season can become an opportunity for identity theft.

How might this happen? Through voter registration.

Identity thieves can use the voter registration system to acquire personal information from individuals, especially younger voters and first-time registrants.

All voters need to be aware of the ways an identity thief will work the system to gain information. The Better Business Bureau encourages voters to exercise caution when it comes to an unsolicited voter registration requests, using following methods:

• E-mail: Recipients may get a phishing e-mail, an attempt to gain personal information that appears to be from a government agency, with a link to a message to register to vote or resolve a registration issue. These links will actually redirect recipients to Web sites that install viruses or malware on their computers or ask for personal information, such as Social Security or bank account numbers.

• Phone: A voter might receive an unsolicited call from someone claiming to work for a government agency or one of the presidential campaign offices. Don't trust it. The caller may claim there is a problem with the voter's registration and the prospective voter needs to confirm his or her identity by providing personal information. State government officials do not contact voters by phone with registration problems, nor do they require a bank account or credit card numbers to confirm a voter's identity.

• In-person: If you encounter individuals working door-to-door voter registration, ask individuals for proof of the organization the volunteer represents before providing any information. Some states require Social Security numbers to vote, but no state requires bank account or credit card information for the voter's identity.

Voter registration processes vary by state. Voters can go to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission Web site at www.eac.gov/voter to find state voter registration guidelines.

— Edited and compiled by Chuck Myers.