Monday, March 22, 2010

Protect Your Family from U.S. Census Scams

Protect Your Family from U.S. Census Scams

The U.S. Census Bureau has begun the 2010 Census process which also – unfortunately – means that scam artists posing as Census workers/officials just added to their arsenal of dubious ways. Today, I would like to share with you some quick facts and tips on how to protect yourself from falling prey to these sometimes sophisticated and shrewd individuals.

Census forms are being mailed and/or delivered to your household right about now, with the request that you complete and return it promptly – mine arrived last week.

According to the Census Bureau: “If you fill out the form and mail it back, no census taker will need to come to your residence.” Then, between April and July, census takers will visit ONLY those households that did not return a form by mail. The good news seems to be the Bureau’s claims that this form is “one of the shortest forms in history – 10 questions in 10 minutes.”

Should you find yourself in the position of having a census taker knock on your door, here’s the least you should know. A legitimate U.S Census Bureau worker MUST have an identity badge, a handheld device, a confidentiality notice, a Census Bureau canvas bag, and the telephone number of their Census Bureau offices. It is recommended that you match their badge with their driver’s license and call their office to verify their legitimacy.

You ABSOLUTELY MUST NOT Fall for Any of These Gimmicks!

Email. No census official – even if it is your spouse – is authorized to or should contact you by email. Please remember this – NO emails from the Census people, period!

Online forms. There is no filling of any forms online. The Census Bureau has clearly stated that they will NOT ask you to complete any forms or provide any information whatsoever online.

Identifying information. Also, do NOT release any identifying information such as your Social Security number, bank or credit card information, salary/income, citizenship/immigration status, or make a donation to any cause – however noble and legitimate it may sound – to ANY census taker. Even if they are married to you, the Census Bureau has NOT authorized them to do anything that even resembles this.

While adhering to the above-mentioned cautions will help protect you, I must point out that this is not an exhaustive list. You should always pay attention to your local officials, as most of these scams change as quickly as the seconds tick away on a clock.
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