How to Protect Yourself from Scammers During the 2010 Census

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With the beginning of a new decade, the 2010 census is in place to gather information for the Census Bureau regarding housing, economic, and demographic information. This data is used to determine the number of Congressional representatives each state gets as well as to distribute federal funds

While this is a legitimate undertaking, more than a few scammers will use it in an effort to steal personal information from unsuspecting individuals for the purpose of committing identity theft. Some will even use this as an opportunity to gain entry into your home so they can steal from you. Scammers will suddenly be working overtime to try and take advantage of this situation, especially in the early days before the word gets out and people morph into hyper vigilance against them.

Since scammers will use phone, postal mail, e-mail, and in-person approaches to gain your information, it is important to know how to recognize an authentic representative or an authentic document. The Census Bureau has specific guidelines that it follows when taking a census. Therefore, there are strategies that you can use to determine whether or not the individual posing as a census taker is indeed a legitimate representative from the Census Bureau.

In Person

The census questionnaire is sent via postal mail, so be wary of anyone trying to tell you that they have the questionnaire in their possession. If you fail to complete the form and send it back in as required by federal law, someone from the Census Bureau will show up at your doorstep. Plus, if additional information is needed, a census worker may show up at your doorstep looking for it. Your best strategy is to mail back the census form promptly. This will help you to avoid having a scammer show up pretending to be a real census worker.

If someone comes to your home claiming to be a census worker, step outside to speak with the individual and do not invite them into your home. If you are outside, neighbors or people who are passing by can see you and assist you should you need help. Use the tips here to help you verify the individual's status as a census worker.

Census workers must carry an official government badge that clearly identifies them. This badge includes the individual's name, so you can ask for a second form of identification with their name on it for comparison. Along with the badge, a legitimate census worker carries a confidentiality notice and a binder containing a list of the people they must contact regarding the census.  He might also have a small, handheld device or and an official census canvas bag. 


Typically, the Census Bureau will not send emails to anyone. If they do send any emails, they will not ask for personal information. If an email does ask for this type of information,it's a phishing email and has not been sent from the bureau. If you do receive any emails claiming to be from the Census Bureau, do not click on any links or open any attachments as they might contain spyware or a computer virus.

Postal Mail

Postal mail coming from the Census Bureau is marked as such and typically includes the phrase "Official Business of the United States."

Phone Calls

Census phone calls are typically related to surveys only. Do not provide the following information to anyone claiming to be a Census Bureau representative on the phone: social security number, birth dates, credit card numbers, and bank account numbers.

Points to Remember

Census workers will not ask to enter your home at any time. They will not ask you to submit information online or thru email. They will only ask you questions that are included on the official census form including name, age, gender, and race. If they ask for any financial information, it will just be for your salary range and not account numbers or information. They will not ask for donations or fees. So if someone comes by expecting to get paid, you can be sure they are scamming you.

When in doubt, contact the census bureau concerning any suspicious contact.


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