Census Scams

Census Bureau

Census scams are a potential problem as America prepares for the 2010 Census. The Los Angeles area Better Business Bureau has issued a caution reminding you not to give out information to people who may be posing as census workers in order to obtain personal information. Protect your family.

Although most people are generally cautious about giving out personal information to unsolicited phone callers or people who ring the doorbell, the Census presents an unusual situation. Unfortunately, according to Bill Mitchell, President/CEO of the Better Business Bureau of the Southland, "scammers know that the public is more willing to share personal data when taking part in the Census and they have an opportunity to ply their trade by posing as a government employee and soliciting sensitive financial information."

As we previously reported, U.S. households are required by federal law to respond to the census questions.

Census workers will be contacting households by mail, telephone, or in person to inquire about the number of people living in the house. As the BBB warns, though, "people may also be contacted by scammers, who impersonal Census workers to get access to banking and financial information. Law enforcement in several states have issued warnings that scammers are already posing as Census Bureau employees and knocking on doors asking for donations and Social Security numbers."

Arm yourself with knowledge about the census so you will be prepared to protect your family against possible census scams. Know what questions they are supposed to ask, and which ones they aren't supposed to ask.

To protect your family, remember these tips:

  • Legitimate Census workers will carry an official government identification badge with their name on it, possibly a canvas Census Bureau bag, and a confidentiality notice. Ask to see their ID and their badge before answering any questions.
  • Do not invite them into your home. Census workers will not ask permission to enter your home. If someone posing as a census worker requests entry to your home, lock the doors and call 911.
  • If someone claiming to be a census worker asks for social security numbers, credit card information or banking information, close the door and call 911. Do NOT give your social security number, credit card or banking information to anyone, even if they claim it is for the U.S. Census. Census workers will not ask for social security numbers, financial information or donations.
  • Census workers may contact you by telephone, mail, or in person at home. They will NOT contact you by e-mail, so be alert for e-mail census scams impersonating the Census Bureau. Do not click on a link or open any attachment in an e-mail that claims to be from the Census Bureau.

By taking time to learn about what to expect during the Census, you can protect your family from potential census scams.

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