Scammers use census in phone calls
Posted: Tuesday, May 11, 2010 9:02 pm
Many elderly Troy residents have received scam calls regarding the 2010 census.
Local residents say the calls are coming from the number (864) 221-3707, but the number is inactive when called.
A check with the Census Bureau has revealed that such a scam is taking place.
According to the bureau, fraudsters always use news of the day — such as the current census — to lure people.
The call starts with an automated voice that says, “The 2010 census is here. Diabetics, please notice that there is not a spot on your form asking about your status, but insurance carriers need this information to determine what they will cover.”
A recipient of such a call, which was reported to the Census Bureau, sensing a scam, pressed “1” to “fill out the survey.”
“When the live operator came on the line, I asked what a survey of diabetics had to do with the census, and what company was conducting the survey. The operator hemmed and hawed for a moment, and then hung up on me,” the call recipient said.
While the Census Bureau does conduct telephone interviews for some of its surveys, the operator’s behavior and a quick Google search seem to confirm that this diabetes-related call is likely a scam.
And it’s not the only scam out there.
According to bankrate.com, there have been reports of people identifying themselves as census takers, contacting senior citizens in Chicago and trying to extract their financial ID numbers. There’s also a phishing scam where residents receive official-looking e-mails saying they didn’t fill out the census survey correctly and asking for Social Security numbers or bank account information or computer user names and passwords. Some people have even received fake 2010 census questionnaires in the mail, requesting their personal financial information.
“A census employee will never ask for your Social Security number or your credit card or bank account numbers,” said William W. Hatcher, regional director for the U.S. Census Bureau. “And if you get an e-mail asking questions, that’s not from a census taker. Our employees only visit in person or telephone if needed.”
Here is a list of what a Census Bureau employee, who is sworn to keep you personal information confidential for life or face tough penalties, will and will not do.
A census taker will not:
• Ask for donations, the amount of money you have in the house, Social Security numbers or credit card or bank account numbers.
• Contact you by e-mail, although he might telephone you after trying personal contact.
• Ask about citizenship status.
• Ask to enter your home.
A census taker will:
• Wear official an identification badge with the words “United States Department of Commerce, Economics and Statistics Administration, U.S. Census Bureau,” and the name and title of the employee. A census worker might also carry a black canvass bag with the words “U.S. CENSUS BUREAU” written on it and the Department of Commerce logo.
• Provide you with supervisor contact information and/or the local census office telephone number upon request. You can call these telephone numbers to verify that the person at your door is a sworn census employee.
• Ask only the 10 questions that appear on the 2010 Census form. You can find these questions by going to www.2010census.gov.
“For us, it doesn’t matter how hard it is to reach someone,” Hatcher said, “What matters is that we count everyone and the public and our employees are safe in the process.”
Published in The Messenger 5.11.10