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2010 Census Cautions
In 2010, the U.S. government will undertake an enormous project to count every single American. The process already has begun, with Census workers knocking on some doors to validate addresses.
Data in the 2010 Census are used for many important purposes, including to determine how many seats each state gets in the U.S. House of Representatives, to allocate funding, to conduct research, to identify populations, and more. Getting an accurate count of the population allows the government and other entities to do a better job of serving the people.
Unfortunately, the Census effort is almost certain to bring out some people with less honorable intentions. Scammers and identity thieves could try to get information or money from you by pretending to be working for the U.S. Census Bureau.
In order to avoid being scammed, start by understanding the process. In March, the Census Bureau will deliver a form to each address asking for some basic information about the people who live at the address. The form has 10 questions:
- How many people live at this address?
- Were there any other people, such as visiting relatives, at this address on April 1, 2010?
- Is the home owned by someone in the home with a mortgage, owned by someone in the home free and clear, rented, or occupied without payment of rent?
- What is your phone number?
- What is the name of each person living in the home?
- What is the gender of each person living in the home?
- What is each person’s age on April 1, and what is each person’s date of birth?
- Is any person in the home of Hispanic, Latino or Spanish origin?
- What is the race of each person living in the home?
- Does anyone in the home also stay somewhere else, such as a college dorm or military base?
The form will not ask for sensitive identifying information such as Social Security numbers, credit card numbers or bank account numbers. Any form that asks for this kind of information is not a legitimate Census form.
If you mail back your form by April 1, 2010, you are done; you won’t hear from Census workers unless they have a question about something you put on the form. If you don’t mail the form back, though, you will receive a phone call or a visit from a Census worker sometime between April 1 and July. The worker will ask the same questions that are on the form. Again, anyone asking for Social Security numbers, etc., is a scammer.
The Census Bureau will never contact you by email, so if you receive an email that says it is from the Census Bureau, do not open it, and never send information to the Census Bureau by email.
Finally, a Census worker might stop at your house before March to verify your address. Any Census worker who comes, either before March or after April 1, will have a badge and other identification. Always ask to see the ID of anyone who comes to your house claiming to be a Census worker. And never invite into your home a person you don’t know.
For more information about the 2010 Census, click here.