Watch Out For Census Scammers
Bureau won’t ask for financial info, SSNs, passwords
March 24, 2010
Government officials aren’t the only ones collecting info this census season. As the U.S. Census Bureau, Better Business Bureau and others have warned, census time is opportunity time for impostors looking to trick people into turning over sensitive personal data.
In Niagara County, N.Y., a woman reportedly filled out forms calling for information including her Social Security number, monthly income and health insurance information. A Brevard County, Fla., woman says that someone claiming to be a census representative contacted her by telephone, asking for information including her driver's license, FloridaToday.com reports. What should consumers know to stay safe?
The Census Bureau warns that it does not:
• Conduct the 2010 Census via the Internet
• Send e-mails about participating in the 2010 Census
And the bureau never collects:
• Your full Social Security number
• Credit card, bank, or other financial account information, including PIN codes and passwords
• Money or donations
• Requests on behalf of a political party
Legitimate census data collection takes place by mail, telephone, or in-person, by a census worker. Mailed requests from the Census Bureau are marked as having come from the U.S. Census Bureau and as OFFICIAL BUSINESS of the United States (check out the 10-question form here). Remember: if a form asks for financial account information, passwords, or a Social Security number, it’s a phony.
If you get any requests for “census” info online, ignore them. Don’t reply to e-mails, click on links or open attachments. Rather, report any suspect e-mails or URLs to the Census Bureau at ITSO.Fraud.Reporting@census.gov. The agency won’t return a confirmation e-mail, but will notify you of any findings upon investigation.
Authentic census phone calls should originate from the Regional Offices or the National Processing Center. To confirm whether a caller is an authorized census representative, the Census Bureau suggests confirming by using the telephone center number listed on the Contact the National Processing Center page. (Have your case ID number handy. For more, see the Census Bureau's ”Is this a legitimate phone call?"
In many areas, Census Bureau workers will begin going door-to-door in May to visit households that didn’t return questionnaires. Legitimate representatives will have a valid Census Bureau ID badge featuring their name. You can also ask for a secondary picture identification to confirm the worker’s identity, the bureau suggests. To verify your household has been included as part of the survey, call your regional office.
One last tip: Don’t let a census worker into your house. As always, it’s important to cooperate with legitimate data-gathering efforts. Just be on the lookout for the scams.
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