Local scams tied to Census count | TheUnion.com

Local scams tied to Census count

The 2010 Census count has begun – and with the census comes the opportunity for crooks to take advantage of unsuspecting victims.

An Alta Sierra woman is the first reported victim in Nevada County. She called the Nevada County Planning Department March 4 and said she had received a fraudulent Census questionnaire in the mail that asked for her Social Security number, creditor and bank information.

“She said it looked official, so she and her husband filled it out,” said senior planner Tyler Barrington.

The form said she would be violating federal law if she did not return it, and provided a return address in Nevada City.

“They didn’t put their bank information down, but they did put in their Social Security information and mailed it back,” Barrington said.

The woman grew worried after reading about similar scams.

“We really want to make sure everyone is aware there’s that potential out there,” Barrington said.

Potential identity thieves might try to contact local residents via mail, e-mail or in person, but the Census Bureau wants residents to be aware that census takers will not ask for personal information.

Beginning this month, census forms will be delivered to every residence in the United States.

From April to July, census workers will knock on the door of every household that does not mail back the completed 2010 Census form.

The Census will ask for name, gender, age, race, ethnicity, relationship and whether you own or rent your home.

If a U.S. Census Bureau employee knocks on your door, here are some tips to recognize the person is legitimate:

• The census taker must present an ID badge that contains a U.S. Department of Commerce watermark and expiration date. The census taker may also be carrying a bag with a Census Bureau logo.

• The census taker will provide you with supervisor contact information and/or the local office telephone number for verification, if asked.

• The census taker will only ask you the questions that appear on the census form. Census takers will not ask you for your Social Security number, bank account number, or credit card number. Census takers also never solicit for donations and will never contact you by e-mail.

To contact Staff Writer Liz Kellar, e-mail lkellar@theunion.com or call (530) 477-4229.

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