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Watch out for Census scams

Published 9:01am Friday, March 26, 2010

By AARON MUELLER
Niles Daily Star

The U.S. Census is in full swing now with most citizens having received their questionnaire. But the massive people count also opens the door for fraudulent activity and scams.
Dave Wiemerslage is the office manager of the Kalamazoo region Census Bureau, which covers five counties, including Cass and Berrien.

“The (scam) that seems to be floating around this year is that some political group was using a fake Census form to solicit funds,” Wiemerslage said.

He said the office has also become aware of phishing scams, which involve e-mails being sent out that direct recipients to enter Social Security numbers, credit card numbers or bank account information in a fake Web site.

The U.S. Census does not send any correspondence via e-mail.

Wiemerslage said the most important thing to remember about the Census is that it does not ask for financial information.

“We’re just looking for name, age, date of birth, sex, address, ethnicity and race, but we do not ask for social security numbers and we aren’t digging into financials,” he said.
The only official forms sent out by the Census are a post card notifying residents they will receive a questionnaire, the 10-item questionnaire itself and a thank you post card upon receipt. If the resident does not respond, another questionnaire will be sent after April 15.
Another problem is people posing as Census officials and going door to door to gather sensitive information.

All official employees will have a Census ID badge and will not ask for sensitive information.
Posing as a U.S. Census worker is a federal offense. Talking to official Census workers is required by law.

If people are unsure whether the person is really a Census official, they can contact the regional office at (269) 532-7230.

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