April 3, 1999
Use Caution for Scam Artists Posing as U.S.
Arlington, VA (SafetyAlerts)
- Better Business Bureaus (BBB) today issued a warning to the public not to fall victim to
scam artists posing as U.S. Census officials.
The Census imposter frauds are being perpetrated
in-person and over the phone.
In Lowell, Massachusetts two women posing as
census workers entered an elderly womans home and stole $10,000. One woman
distracted the homeowner, while the other searched and unearthed cash in a bedroom.
Another consumer reported being telephoned late at
night by a person posing as a Census 2000 employee. The caller claimed that all Census
officials were working around-the-clock in order to meet their deadline. She asked for
confirmation of the consumers name, the exact spelling of the home address, and then
requested the persons social security number.
When the consumer hesitated to provide such
personal information, the caller put the call on hold to speak with her supervisor
who then got on the line to try to convince the consumer that they were legitimate Census
Fortunately, this particular consumer felt
uncomfortable and hung up. They correctly identified the request for their social security
number to be a red flag signifying fraud. BBBs advise people never to give their social
security number, bank account or credit card numbers to any unknown caller, Hunter
Con artists often tie their schemes to a
timely event, such as a recent natural disaster or the dawn of a new century. Now they are
taking advantage of Census 2000 to lend credibility to their pitch, said Ken Hunter,
president and CEO of the Council of Better Business Bureaus. These particular fraud
operators are claiming to be employed by the federal government, and using that ruse to
extract personal information or valuable possessions from the public.
According to Census officials, genuine Census
enumerators will visit specific neighborhoods over the next few weeks to collect
information. Census officials want the public to know that their workers:
- usually work alone, mostly in the late afternoon
- will not insist on entering your house
- will wear a necklace with a Census 2000 badge that
shows their name and an expiration date, and
- will hand residents a letter and form in two
languages displaying the official Census 2000 logo.
The BBB advises consumers who have doubts about
the legitimacy of a Census worker to call their local police. Every police department will
have a list of enumerators working in their town, as well as the make and model of the
cars they will be driving.
Safety Alerts compiles comprehensive safety recall information for
the United States. SafeMail is a free email service to warn consumers of faulty products
and contaminated foods. For complete information regarding current recalls, past recalls
and timely product warning notification visit: www.safetyalerts.com.
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