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April 3, 1999

Use Caution for Scam Artists Posing as U.S. Census Officials

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 woman’s 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 consumer’s name, the exact spelling of the home address, and then requested the person’s 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 employees.

“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 said.

“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 and evening
  • 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.

Selected Recent Recalls

Health Professional:

Did you know?
During 2000 there were over
1050 products recalled in the United
States for safety reasons!

How many did you hear about?

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