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Residents warned about census scams

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Pedro Oliveira Jr.
January 12, 2010
— Authorities are warning Walworth County residents to be cautious of scammers pretending to be census workers.

Census 2010 workers are expected to visit residences between April and July. They are not to ask for Social Security numbers, bank account information or credit card numbers. They also won’t contact anyone by e-mail.


“The best way to be responsible during the census and to avoid being vulnerable to identity theft is to complete those forms and mail them back to the census,” said Susan Bach, communications director at the Wisconsin Better Business Bureau. “That’s really one of the best ways to protect yourself.”


Census workers only visit homes that don’t return census forms.


Promptly mailing the census 2010 form could also save the government millions of dollars by having fewer homes to visit. Authorities estimate that about $85 million in taxpayer dollars are saved for every 1 percent increase in mail response.


If you don’t receive a census form or are unable to mail it to the Census Bureau in time, local officials offered advice for dealing with visitors who say they work for the census.


“Just ask for that identification from people representing themselves as being an official from an organization,” Elkhorn Police Chief Joel Christensen said. “They should be able to readily produce that for you.”


Census workers must present an identification badge containing a Department of Commerce watermark and expiration day, they will be carrying a bag with a U.S. Census Bureau logo, and they must be able to provide contact information for a supervisor at the regional census office for verification.


A census worker should provide you with a letter from the Census Bureau Director on official letterhead.


Questions included in this year’s census are name, gender, age, race, ethnicity, relationship and whether the home is owned or rented. Answers are protected by law and are not shared with anyone.


“Be careful when someone knocks on your door,” Christensen said.


Elkhorn police advise residents to not let inside their homes anyone they don’t know.


“Yes, it’s safe to give information to census workers,” Bach said. “But you need to make sure they are real census workers.”


IDENTIFYING A CENSUS WORKER

How to identify a census field representative:


-- A census worker must present an identification badge with a Department of Commerce watermark and expiration date. A census worker also will be carrying a bag with a Census Bureau logo.


-- If asked, census workers should provide you with contact information for a supervisor at the regional office for verification.


-- The field representative should provide you with a letter from the Census Bureau director on official letterhead.


-- Census 2010 workers are not to ask for Social Security numbers, bank account information or credit card numbers. They also won’t contact you via e-mail.



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