Census advice from the Better Business Bureau

February 9, 2010 10:07:05 AM PST
With the U.S. Census process beginning, BBB advises people to be cooperative, but cautious, so as not to become a victim of fraud or identity theft.For years, the Better Business Bureau has educated consumers about not giving out personal information over the telephone or to anyone who shows up at their front door.

"Most people are rightfully cautious and won't give out personal information to unsolicited phone callers or visitors, however the Census is an exception to the rule," said Steve J. Bernas, president & CEO serving the Better Business Bureau of Chicago and Northern Illinois. "Unfortunately, scammers know that the public is more willing to share personal data for the Census and take advantage of this opportunity by posing as a government employee and soliciting sensitive financial information."

How to Identify a Census Field Representative
If a U.S. Census Bureau employee knocks on your door, here are some recognition tips to assure the validity of the field representative:

  • The field representative must present an ID badge that contains a Department of Commerce watermark and expiration date. The field representative may also be carrying a bag with a Census Bureau logo.
  • The field representative will provide you with supervisor contact information and/or the Regional Office phone number for verification, if asked.
  • The field representative will provide you with a letter from the Census Bureau Director on official letterhead.

    When Field Representatives will be Going Door-to-Door

  • From April to July 2010, the Census Bureau will knock on the door of every household that does not mail back a completed 2010 Census form.
  • It's critical that you take just 10 minutes to fill out and mail back your form rather than wait for a census worker to show up on your doorstep. About $85 million in taxpayer dollars are saved for every one percent increase in mail response.
  • The Census Bureau must get a census form to ? and a completed form back from ? every residence in the United States. That's more than 130 million addresses. This is why the census is the largest domestic mobilization our nation undertakes.

    What the 2010 Census DOES NOT Ask

  • Field representatives will never ask you for your social security number, bank account number, or credit card number. Census workers also never solicit for donations and will never contact you by e-mail.

    The Census is Safe

  • The 2010 Census will ask for name, gender, age, race, ethnicity, relationship, and whether you own or rent your home ? just 10 simple questions that will take about 10 minutes to answer.
  • Your answers are protected by law and are not shared with anyone.
  • The Census Bureau safeguards all census responses to the highest security standards available.

    For more information about the upcoming 2010 Census visit census.gov/2010census