Better Business Bureau warns that law enforcement in several states have issued warnings that scammers are posing as Census Bureau employees and knocking on doors asking for donations and Social Security numbers.
"Scam artists know the public needs to share information for the 2010 Census and will try to take advantage of the situation," said Robert W.G. Andrew, CEO of BBB serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington. "Education about the Census process can help protect your identity and finances."
Participating in the 2010 Census is required by law, but the public can learn how to identify legitimate Census workers and avoid con artists. BBB offers the following tips:
- Avoid e-mail scams. Census workers may contact individuals by telephone, mail or in person at a home. However, they will not solicit personal information by e-mail. Never click links or open attachments in an e-mail supposedly from the U.S. Census Bureau. Forward fraudulent messages to the Census Bureau at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Know what questions to expect. The U.S. Census Bureau will ask questions concerning household residents including name, date of birth, gender, race, phone number, household relationship, and owner or renter status. The Census Bureau Web site says, mailed forms will be delivered to residences in March; to avoid a visit from a census worker, individuals are asked to answer the 10 questions and mail the form back in the provided postage-paid envelope. Note: in remote areas of Alaska, Census workers will visit door-to-door starting Jan. 25. Click here to preview the 2010 Census form and questions.
- Verify the Census worker's legitimacy. If a U.S. Census worker knocks at the door, ask to see their official government badge before answering any questions. According to the Census Web site, Census workers will never ask to enter a home. If unsure about their identity, contact the Regional Census Center in Seattle to confirm they are employed by the Census Bureau.
- Protect personal information. Census workers will not ask for Social Security numbers, health insurance information, passwords, credit card or bank account numbers, or other financial information. Click here to read about the U.S. Census Bureau's data protection measures.
- Don't give any money. Census workers will never solicit donations or charge fees.
For more U.S. Census information visit www.2010.census.gov. For additional advice on avoiding identity theft and fraud, visit www.bbb.org