April 10, 2010 | The Examiner | Original Article

Census Bureau and Postal Service warns citizens to beware of 2010 Census scams

The U.S. Census Bureau, in conjunction with the United States Postal Service, has issued a warning to all U.S. citizens about fraudulent activity centering around the gathering of census information. The Census Bureau has carefully planned the2010 Census to be as secure and as confidential as possible. Despite all their precautions, unscrupulous people have found creative ways to trick some citizens into giving them their Social Security numbers, internet passwords, and PIN numbers.  

Most U.S.citizens will have their 2010 Census form delivered to them by the U.S Postal Service. If you don't get yours in the mail, then you will probably get a personal visit by an employee of the Census Bureau who will record your data. These are the two main ways that the 2010 Census information will be collected. In a few cases, certain citizens may be interviewed by a Census employee over the phone . 

The majority of people will receive the highly advertised, "10 Questions,10 Minutes" Census form, but there are actually several different forms being used to gather information. One version is 69 questions long, but it will only go out to about 3 million addresses. With all the different forms this year (over a dozen), and the different data gathering methods being used, how do you tell if you might be the target of a Census scam?

The biggest tip off about whether something might be Census fraud is that you are asked to submit your Social Securitynumber. No legitimate form of gathering census data will require you to give your Social Security number. One version of the Census questionnaire does ask for the last four digits of your social, but it does not ask for the full number. If you get a form in the mail that asks for your Social Security number, throw the form away,..., it is a fraud!

Some other tips offered by the Census Bureau include:

  •  The Census Bureau does not gather your census information over the internet.
  •  They do not send emails encouraging you to participate in the census. Any emails you receive that say they are from the Census Bureau are probably "phishing" scams designed to steal your internet passwords, credit card numbers, Social Security number, or other private information.
  •  The Census Bureau will never ask you to send them money or make a donation of any kind.
  •  You will never receive requests on behalf of any political party from the Census Bureau.
  •  They will never ask for your PIN numbers, passwords, or account numbers of any kind. These are the typical requests of rip off artists.

If you are visited by a Census employee and you want to make sure they are legitimate, ask to see their Census I.D. badge. Write down their name and badge number and call the Regional Census Office for your area. The Regional Office can verify for you whether they are actual Census employees and if it is safe to give them your information.

If you receive a suspicious email that you suspect might be part of a phishing scam, forward the email or website URL to the Census Bureau at ITSO.Fraud.Reporting@census.gov.

If you receive a suspicious Census Form in the mail asking for your Social Security number, report it to the United States Postal Inspection Service as mail fraud.

The 2010 Census is necessary, important, and required by law. The Postal Service and the Census Bureau want to issue these warnings to make sure that no takes your personal information illegally and uses it to harm you.