The year 2010 is just around the corner and will soon be knocking on our doors. Also in 2010, some U.S. residents can expect U.S. Census workers to be knocking on their doors as well. What are your rights and what are some common identity thefts scams that you may encounter as the census takes place?
The U.S. census, held every ten years, is an attempt to attain to a nationwide headcount of every person that resides in the United States.
Why is the U.S. Census important?
The information collected from the U.S. census is used not only by the federal government policy makers but also by educators and community leaders to make imports decisions including the distribution of resources and in some cases redistricting.
The last two U.S. Censuses missed counting millions of residents, particularly minorities and low-income household. This is critical because undercounting may reduce funding for important institutions such as hospitals, education, child care programs, veteran’s services, rural development, environmental issues, transportation or even disaster preparedness.
An accurate census count is very important and yet citizens need to their rights when it comes to participating in the U.S. Census 2010. The Census Bureau attributes undercounting to many reasons including a lack of understanding of the census as well as a general mistrust of the government.
How does the Census work?
Census workers are already working to collect information. Law enforcement has concerns that con artists may take advantage of the census process to imitate census workers and obtain information under false pretenses. It is important for citizens to know what they should expect and what SHOULD NOT happen when a census workers comes to your door.
Census Workers who knock on your door should have 4 items with them:
-A census worker badge
-A handheld device
-A Census Bureau canvas bag
-A confidentially notice
Always ask to see an I.D. and never invite anyone into your home that you do not know.
Census workers at this time are only verifying addresses for later mailing. They can ask for a name, age, gender and race. They may also ask for a “salary range.”
They should not ask for nor should you give to anyone:
-Your social security number
-Bank account information
-Credit card information
Census workers may contact you in person, by mail or even by phone but Census workers WILL NOT contact anyone by email. Do not click on any links or attachments that are supposedly from the Census Bureau or you’ll be at risks for identity theft or computer malware.
If you receive a phishing e-mail that says it is from the Census Bureau, do not open it but report it here: firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you have any questions about a census survey, a census worker at your door or a phone call from a census worker, you can call you regional census office and speak to a representative. To find phone numbers for census regional offices visit: http://www.census.gov/field/www/
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is advising people to, “Be cooperative, but cautious, so as not to become a victim of fraud or identity theft.”
What are your rights concerning participating in the U.S. Census?
From the U.S. Census Bureau website:
-The census is mandated by the U.S. Constitution.
-The next census is in 2010.
-Your participation in the census is required by law.
-It takes less than 10 minutes to complete.
-Federal law protects the personal information you share during the census.
But do I have to open my door to a census worker?
We called the U.S. Census Bureau customer service number to ask just this question. The Census customer service representative assured us that the answer is “no.”
“It’s your house, you don’t have to answer your door to anybody,” she said but she went on to say that if the U.S. Census Bureau already has your address then “you’ll get a survey in the mail and if you fill out the survey and send it back in, then no one will come to your house anyway.”
So the U.S. Census Bureau will only come knocking on your door if they don’t have your address on file or know who lives in the residence OR if you fail to send back the survey.