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Watch out for census scams

  • Published
  • By Michael Sydnor
  • 43rd Airlift Wing Antiterrorism Office
The 2010 census has begun. With scams being prevalent these days, people have called the police on census workers canvassing neighborhoods. In a report from Richardson, Texas, neighbors said they were unaware work on the 2010 census had begun. "There are a lot of fakes out there," said one resident. 

This resident was correct. There are a lot of scammers out there posing as census workers. 

So how do you know if the census worker who comes to your door is legitimate? According to the U.S. Census Bureau, their employees can be easily identified. Spokeswoman Kat Smith, U.S. Census Bureau, said, "Each employee is equipped with a badge, a handheld computer, a vest and a carrying case that will identify him or her as a census worker." Smith said census workers are always prepared to show their badges. She encouraged residents to call a local census bureau to verify the workers' employment if it would make them feel safer or if they suspect the person is a fake. "Only the police know what the IDs look like," she said, because they don't want the IDs to be duplicated, adding to a potential scammer's tools of deception. 

Census workers will be in neighborhoods all over the country in the coming months. The census surveys will be sent to homes in April 2010. Over the next 18 months, 1.4 million U.S. Census workers will survey the population of the United States to gather demographic information about every person living at each address, including name, age, gender, race, ethnic origin, birth date, marital status, employment status and other relevant data. U.S. citizens are required by law to respond to the U.S. Census Bureau's requests for information. 

Unfortunately, you may also be contacted by scammers impersonating census workers to get access to your banking and financial information. Scammers posing as census workers have been asking for donations and social security numbers around the country. "Most people are cautious and will not give out personal information to unsolicited phone callers or visitors, but the census is an exception to the rule," said Kathy Graham, BBB President/CEO. "Scammers know the public is more willing to share personal data when taking part in the census, so they take advantage of this opportunity by posing as government workers." So how do you tell the difference between a U.S. Census worker and a con artist? 

The BBB has this advice: 

- U.S. Census workers will have identification, a handheld device and a confidentiality notice. If a census worker knocks on your door, ask to see identification before answering questions. However, you should never invite anyone you don't know into your home. 

- U.S. Census workers will not ask you for your social security number or your banking and financial information. Do not ever give your social security number, credit card or banking information to anyone who contacts you, even if they say it is for the census. 

- U.S. Census workers will not ask you for money or tell you that you owe money. They will not harass you or intimidate you into paying money or giving them your social security number. 

- U.S. Census workers may contact you by telephone, mail or in person at home. However, they will not contact you by e-mail, so be vigilant about e-mail scams impersonating the census. 

Sources: http://fayetteville.bbb.org/article/dont-fall-for-census-scams-10224, AFNORTH Force protection Summary