You’ve seen the commercials — a movie star or famous athlete reminding you to participate in the 2010 census. “Be counted,” they say. Eventually, census workers will work to count every person living in the United States. But just like everything else, the bad guys have taken this as an opportunity to scam you out of your money or personal identity. If we’re not careful, we will indeed be counted — counted among those who have been scammed.
A few simple steps can prevent a lot of heartache. The Better Business Bureau has outlined some suggestions that can keep us safe during the upcoming census process.
Census workers will not use e-mail to seek information. If an e-mail comes to your inbox purporting to be related to the census, you are about to be scammed. Immediately delete any e-mail that claims to come from the Census Bureau. The e-mails will look very official, but do not be fooled. Avoid replying to these e-mails, clicking on their links, or opening their attachments.
The only organization with whom you should cooperate is the U.S. Census Bureau. Do not give any information to third party organizations claiming to be working on the census. The government has decided not to use third party organizations, such as ACORN, to retrieve information. Any person soliciting information will have an official badge, a canvas bag, and a handheld device. Scammers know this, too, so don’t be fooled simply because the worker has these items. Be careful not to divulge any sensitive information.
Never invite any worker into your home. A census worker does not need to enter your home and will not ask to do so. The information needed can be collected at the doorstep. Always ask to see identification before giving any information to anyone.
The Census Bureau will not ask for sensitive information. The purpose of the census is to catalog information about the number of people, gender, race, and other relevant information. The Census Bureau will never ask for information such as Social Security number, bank information, credit card numbers, etc. They will never ask for donations, either. Anyone asking for such information should be reported to the authorities immediately. The census may include a general question about your income, but do not answer any question that makes you feel uncomfortable.
Take a moment to review these guidelines before a census worker shows up at your door. Following these simple rules will ensure that you, your personal information, and your privacy are kept safe.
If you have any questions or feel that your computer may have been infected through one of these scams, please call Computer Problem Specialists at (928) 468-0000 for a free scan.
Daniel Taft is the senior network administrator and member/owner of Computer Problem Specialists, LLC with a degree in applied computer science. His career spans more than 20 years.