Chicago, IL-June 4, 2009 - With the U.S. Census process beginning, the BBB advises people to be cooperative, but cautious, to avoid becoming a victim of fraud or identity theft.
The first phase of the 2010 U.S. Census is under way as workers have begun verifying the addresses of households across the country. Eventually, more than 140,000 U.S. Census workers will count every person in the United States and will gather information about every person living at each address including name, age, gender, race and other relevant data.
“Most people are rightfully cautious and won’t give out personal information to unsolicited phone callers or visitors, however the Census is an exception to the rule,” said Steve J. Bernas, president & CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Chicago and Northern Illinois. “Unfortunately, scammers know that the public is more willing to share personal data for the Census and take advantage of this opportunity by posing as a government employee and soliciting sensitive financial information.”
During the U.S. Census, households will be contacted by mail, telephone or visited by a U.S. Census worker who will inquire about the number of people living in the house. Unfortunately, people may also be contacted by scammers who are impersonating Census workers in order to gain access to sensitive financial information such as Social Security, bank account or credit card numbers.
Unfortunately, people may also be contacted by scammers, who impersonate Census workers to get access to banking and financial information. Law enforcement in several states have issued warnings that scammers are already posing as Census Bureau employees and knocking on doors asking for donations and Social Security numbers.
How do you tell an authorized U.S. Census worker from a con artist? The BBB offers the following advice:
- Currently, Census workers are only knocking on doors to verify address information. Do not give your Social Security number, credit card or banking information to anyone, even if they claim they need it for the U.S. Census. While the Census Bureau might ask for basic financial information, such as a salary range, it will not ask for Social Security, bank account or credit card numbers, nor will employees solicit donations.
- U.S. Census workers will have a badge, a handheld device, a Census Bureau canvas bag and a confidentiality notice. Ask to see their identification and their badge before answering their questions. However, you should never invite anyone you don’t know into your home.
- Eventually, Census workers may contact you by telephone, mail or in person at home. However, they will not contact you by e-mail, so be on the look out for e-mail scams impersonating the Census. Never click on a link or open any attachments in an e-mail that are supposedly from the U.S. Census Bureau.
For more advice on avoiding identity theft and fraud, visit www.bbb.org