BBB alerts consumers about U.S. census scams

HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - With the U.S. Census process beginning, the Better Business Bureau advises people to be cooperative, but cautious, so as not to become a victim of fraud or identity theft.

Census Forms were mailed earlier this year, and if your household returned the form prior to April 1st, you should be done with the Census process and not require a visit from a Census Worker.

However, if the form was not returned by mail, expect a visit in person or by telephone from one of the 140,000 U.S. Census workers who are working hard to count every person in the United States.

Census workers are gathering information about every person living at each address and the collected data includes the name, age, gender, race and other relevant data.

The Census data will be used to allocate more than $300 billion in federal funds every year, as well as determine a State's number of Congressional representatives.

Households are actually required by law to respond to the Census Bureau's request for 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.

The BBB says unfortunately, people may also be contacted by scammers who impersonate Census workers to get access to banking and financial information.

In fact, reports have already been coming in to the North Alabama BBB concerning visitors who went door-to-door in the Decatur area and asked for information such as social security numbers, which would never be asked by a Census Worker.

Others in the Ardmore, Huntsville and Cullman area report receiving a form in the mail that looked just like a Census form, but also asked for social security numbers.

How do you tell the difference between a U.S. Census worker and a con artist? BBB offers the following advice:

  • If a U.S. Census worker knocks on your door, they 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.
  • Last year Census workers knocked on doors solely to verify address information. Now they will be asking to verify data on each member of the household, unless your census form was already completed and mailed in. 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. Census workers will not ask for banking and financial information nor will they solicit donations.

Census workers may contact you by telephone, 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.

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