ATLANTA—The Department of Human Services Division of Aging Services is urging older adults to be vigilant over the next few months to avoid criminals who are masquerading as legitimate Census Bureau workers. Cyber-criminals and scam artists are looking for any available opportunity to steal money and personal information. With the 2010 U.S. Census process beginning, these criminals are taking advantage of the census-taking event to separate older adults from personal information that thieves can use to empty bank accounts.
To avoid the scams, here is what older adults need to know. Census forms will be mailed to households with a return-by date of April 1. From April through July, census workers will knock on the door of every household that did not return its census forms.
If an individual comes to the door, look for someone who has a badge (with a Department of Commerce watermark and expiration date), a letter from the Census Bureau Director on official letterhead, and a handheld device or computer. If you have any questions regarding the person’s identity, call the Regional Census Center at 1-800-923-8282 to confirm that the visitor is an employee.
The Census Bureau might ask for basic financial information such as a salary range. It will not, however, ask for Social Security, bank account or credit card numbers. Employees of the U.S Census Department can never ask for money or donations, enter your home, or tell you that you owe money to the government, even if you do.
There have already been reports of scam artists posing as Census Bureau workers in Georgia. In January, homeowners in middle Georgia’s Crawford County reported people going door to door, posing as Census Bureau workers, and requesting social security numbers. Census workers may contact you by telephone, by mail, or in person at home. They will not contact you by e-mail. Do not click on a link or open any attachments in an email that is supposedly from the US Census Bureau. If you do receive an e-mail or find a Web site that you suspect is falsely representing the Census Bureau, forward the e-mail or Web site URL to the Census Bureau at ITSO.Fraud.Reporting@census.gov.
If anyone posing as a census worker asks for any personal information, is aggressive, or tries to intimidate or coax you, you have the right to refuse to give information. If you feel uncomfortable in any way, end the conversation immediately and call law enforcement. Then report the matter to the Census Bureau Call Center at 1-800-923-8282.
For more information about elder abuse prevention, the public may call the Georgia Department of Human Services, Division of Aging Services at 1-866-55-AGING (552-4464) or visit http://www.aging.dhr.georgia.gov.