Crooks capitalize on census info; learn how to protect yourself - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Crooks capitalize on census info; learn how to protect yourself

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SPOKANE, Wash. - The Census happens every ten years, but a lot has changed since 2000 - especially the tactics used by scam artists.

How do you know if the census worker asking for your information is legit? First, you have to know how the Census really works. So, educate yourself!

2010 U.S. Census questionnaires will begin arriving in everyone's mailbox about a month from now. The U.S. Census Bureau is encouraging everyone to take the time to fill them out. It is only if you don't fill out the required paperwork being sent that come June, the Census Bureau will send someone to your door to attempt to gain a response from you.

In the meantime, be wary of anyone who randomly calls or emails you stating they are with the Census - That's not how this works.

If someone does contact you in either of these ways prior to the deadline for submitting your census paperwork, consider it to be a red flag. Question it.

The census is first mailed and consists of ten questions. If you think you've received a bogus email, do not reply or click on links, do not open any attachments, and never give out your social security number, credit card, or banking information. If you give your credit card number, they can take your money. If you give them your social security number they can steal your identity.

If you want to know the validity of legitimate census worker activity, here are regional numbers for you to utilize to confirm:

Census survey calls or questionable census emails:

First and foremost, the Census Bureau does not communicate with anyone about their questionnaire via email.

The Census Bureau operates national call centers that are open evenings and weekends.

To confirm that a caller or email is a legitimate Census communication, contact the National Processing Center at: 866-226-2864.

Census workers at your door:

A Census staffer will only show at your door if you haven't provided the Census paperwork by deadline. A Census staffer at your door will show a badge, discuss the survey, and provide you with an official document about the survey. 

To identify that a US Census Bureau official at your door is legitimate: Washington and Idaho residents: Call 800-233-3308.

- Better Business Bureau

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