The U.S. Census Bureau is warning consumers to be on the lookout for a number of different census scams aimed at prying sensitive personal information away from consumers. Scammers will attempt to contact individuals in different ways including, through email, over the phone, by fake census survey, and through in-person contact. Keep in mind the following information from the Census Bureau’s website:
- Any request for census information from the Census Bureau will be clearly marked as coming from the U.S. Census Bureau and as OFFICIAL BUSINESS of the United States
- It is a federal offense for anyone to pretend they represent the Census Bureau, or any other office of the United States Government
- When the 2010 Census takes place, you will receive a letter from the Census Bureau Director, notifying you that, in a few days, your household will receive a form in the mail, or a phone call from the Census Bureau, or a visit from a Census Bureau representative
The Census is not being administered online and no official emails will be sent from the Bureau, according to their website. In the event you receive a fake email about the Census, the Bureau suggests doing the following:
- If you think it is a bogus email, do not reply or click on any links within the email.
- Do not open any attachments. Attachments may contain code that could infect your computer.
- Forward the email or web site URL to the Census Bureau at ITSO.Fraud.Reporting@census.gov.
- After you forward the email to us, delete the message. You will not receive a confirmation email after forwarding the information to us. However, the Census Bureau will investigate the information and notify you of its findings.
In the event you receive a fake survey in the mail, the Bureau recommends that you contact the U.S. Postal Inspection Service. Information to do so is located here.
Beware of census phone calls as well. According to the Census Bureau, only in rare instances will they call to confirm or clarify information you have submitted. Be wary if they ask about any sensitive financial information and do not give it out. Their website says they will never:
- Ask for your full social security number
- Ask for money or a donation
- Send requests on behalf of a political party
- Request PIN codes, passwords or similar access information for credit cards, banks or other financial accounts.
To avoid any in-person scams, first, be sure to ask to see their U.S. Census Bureau Badge. According to the Bureau’s website, census workers may visit homes for quality-control purposes or to oversee the completion of a census form. They will not ask for money. To further confirm that you are part of the survey, call your regional Bureau office. Their number can be found here. The Bureau’s tips for identifying census workers include:
- All census takers carry official government badges marked with just their name
- You may also ask them for a picture ID from another source to confirm their identity
- Some census workers might carry a “U.S. Census Bureau” bag
As a final rule to remember, according to their website, “the Census Bureau will NEVER, under any circumstances, ask to enter your home.”