Over the next 18 months, 1.4 million U.S. Census workers will be surveying the population of the country to gather demographic information about everyone living here. As the 2010 census process begins, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) Serving Mississippi advises citizens to cooperate carefully in order to avoid becoming a victim of census-related scams.
Citizens are required by law to respond to the U.S. Census Bureau’s requests for information. Census data will be used in allocation of more than $300 billion in federal funds as well as in determining the number of Congressional representatives that each state is allowed.
“Most people are understandably cautious about giving out personal information to unsolicited phone callers or visitors, but the Census is an exception to the rule,” said Bill Moak, President/CEO of the Mississippi BBB “Scammers know that the public is more willing to share personal data when participating in the Census, so they take advantage of this opportunity by posing as government workers to get access to personal financial information.”
The BBB and local media have gotten calls from citizens who have been approached by census workers, but are uncertain about giving out personal information. The BBB has been in contact with local census officials, who have urged Mississippi residents to call to verify the identity of census workers. That number (in Dallas, TX) is 214-253-4400. Helpful information may also be found on the Census Bureau's website by clicking here.
The BBB offers the following advice to help distinguish between bona fide Census workers and con artists:
- U.S. Census workers will have identification, a handheld device and a confidentiality notice. Caution: never invite strangers into your home.
- U.S. Census workers will not ask for your Social Security number or any information about bank or credit card accounts.
- U.S. Census workers will not ask you for money or say that you owe money.
- U.S. Census workers will not harass or intimidate you.
- U.S. Census workers will not contact you by email – only by phone, by mail or in person.
For more information regarding the 2010 Census, visit the U.S. Census Bureau online at www.census.gov.