Robocalls And Text Messages Invade Election Campaigns

Election strategy using Robocalls and Text Messaging

Alberta’s provincial election is coming and politicians and political parties alike; have started rolling out a proven and tested strategy to the campaign like robocalls and text messages techniques.

It may annoy a lot of people, but this strategy has been used for quite a long time and experts agree that they work. Lori Williams, a political scientist at Mount Royal University said while the tactics turn many off, they do work.

“We see this every election,” Williams said. “But people wouldn’t use them if they didn’t have some positive impact.”

“I always worry that some people just get fed up and don’t vote at all,” Williams said. “That’s, I think, the biggest damage of all that can be done if it turns people away from politics.”

Politicians are exempted from the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications (CRTC) do-not-call lists. This means that politicians are allowed to call everyone to campaign to them.

“They are permitted to call for three purposes: solicit funds, to support their campaign or to sell memberships for the party,” said Drew Westwater, Deputy Chief Electoral Officer.

However, the rules require political parties to identify the caller.

“They must state who they are, who they are calling, who they are representing, and have contact information for people if they have complaints about the call,” Westwater said.

Meanwhile, tech experts have been vocal about the rise of new modus operandi involving robocalls and VoIP technology to scam people, not just by crooked politicians who want to be voted to office, but by actual criminals who extort money.

In February, a spam operation that has been exploiting a local community in Milwaukee. The illegal spamming activity has been calling residents in Milwaukee claiming to represent a local law firm by the name of “Anderson and Thompson.”

The modus operandi call random Milwaukee residents under the disguise of a local law firm to collect an old debt from a legal conflict and that the debt must be settled immediately.

What makes this case unique and interesting is that scammers are using a virtual phone number to conduct this operation, Wisconsin Better Business Bureau suspects. It totally makes sense because VoIP service providers are offering cheap calling rates and unique phone numbers to anyone who wants their services. This only means that criminals get to save money from using VoIP phones than by using an easily traceable number like their home phone number.

Aside from being cheap and less traceable, VoIP service providers can also provide you with phone numbers in any area code, regardless of your actual geographical location.

Spammers are using a series of three phone numbers, all with a 414 area code, a local Wisconsin area code. This data implies that these scammers could be at different state while they victimize residents in Milwaukee.

There is a good reason for VoIP service providers to offer this feature, however, having a fully customizable phone number with varying area codes help customers of a business to save money if they need to call the company with a specific location.

For example, if a business is located in New York, but they have some business associates in Chicago, they might want to get a phone number with a Chicago area code so that their clients and associates do not have to pay long distance calling fees.

According to a 2015 VoIP Fraud Analysis report from Simwood, a leading telecommunications service provider, the toll fraud, and dial-through fraud are projected to cost consumers across the world over $46 billion. This discovery only proves that cybercriminals have found a way to take advantage of VoIP technology to carry out a new type of scam where they can make phone calls over the Internet, pose as a legitimate business, and request for personal and financial information.

On the other hand, the do-not-call list exemption for political parties has an opt-out for those who are too annoyed by robocalls. Politicians are actually required to remove someone from their calling list if requested.

“They have to within 14 days remove them from the callers’ list,” Westwater said. “Unfortunately, the election campaign is only 28 days so, if they start calling during the election they still can call for 14 days after they’ve been asked to be removed.” /apr

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