I received an email from a Boise businessman who says he received call after call after call from (360) 529-6963 and (360) 529-6964. And Im on the Do-Not-Call Registry, he wrote.
When I called the first number from a BBB phone (yes, thats the way it shows up on caller ID), a recording declared that it was Political Opinions of America.
The second number was disconnected.
Next stop: an Internet search. The home page says its a research organization that conducts surveys and opinion polls on top national issues.
It also states There are certain survey campaigns to offer additional incentives for survey takers. Some of the current programs include cruise and vacation offers.
The pages About POA section was littered with poor grammar and spelling errors generally a red flag.
Once we know the name of the company, we plug it in BBBs online database. You can do the same with any company name by going to bbb.org and clicking the orange button labeled, Check out a business or charity to the center left of the screen. BBB maintains millions of records on businesses across the U.S., but Political Opinions didnt show up.
Thats a red flag.
Either the company is new, has recently changed names or is working to stay off the radar. A company that hides its identity and is not easily accessible is questionable, at best. These points draw a red flag.
Another red flag is when someone poses as a public opinion poll-taker, offers a free gift in return for participation, but concludes by asking for a credit card number to cover processing fees.
The Better Business Bureau is warning people about trends in which scammers pose as public opinion poll-takers, offer free gifts in return for participating and then ask for a credit card number to cover processing fees.
Other callers falsely claim to represent political campaign fundraisers and ask for contributions.
The approach of the fall elections offers criminals new ways to fool people into handing over credit card information.
The political campaign and public opinion poll scams are examples of how you must be suspicious of unknown numbers and anyone who asks for credit card information.
Based on a variety of reports to the Better Business Bureau from people receiving these calls, we find the following red flags:
A recorded announcement offering a free cruise in exchange for participating in a telephone survey.
A request for a debit or credit card number to cover port fees and taxes.
High-pressure tactics, such as being told that the free cruise offer is only good right now, and that if you hang up, you will be disqualified.
BBB offers these tips to avoid election campaign shakedowns:
Legitimate polling companies will never offer prizes for participating in a telephone survey, nor ask for a credit card number.
If youd like to give to a political campaign or charity, find contact information yourself and dont give financial information to an unsolicited caller.
Requesting a callback number is no guarantee you will be connected with a legitimate campaign fundraising committee.
Call or visit candidates websites to get contact information to make a donation.
Dont expect the Do-Not-Call Registry to protect you from scam artists.
The people behind the illegal calls are crooks.
Expecting them to abide by the Registry is equivalent to expecting a bank robber to drive the speed limit in the getaway car.
Robb Hicken: 947-2115