Census scams possible in Region 8 - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Census scams possible in Region 8

By Josh Harvison - bio | email

WARM SPRINGS, AR (KAIT) – The U.S. Census Bureau is warning residents across the Region 8 viewing area to be aware of census scammers. According to the agency, more than 8-million phone calls will be made to conduct the 2010 Census; however, some of those calls will not be made by the agency.

"It was a young man. Sounded like a young man and he said he was from the census bureau," said Ina Geller, who said she has been suspicious of two phone calls from possible scammers.

She said she received a call about a week ago from a woman who said she was a census taker. She said during the conversation, the woman asked for personal information.

"She said that she wanted to ask me some questions over the phone and that it would take about 20 minutes," said Geller.

According to the Census Bureau, filling out the necessary paperwork should only take about 10 minutes.

"I haven't received the census yet and I believe that because I'm in a rural area that they send census takers out to the homes," said Geller.

Geller raised her concerns to Region 8 News after learning that she didn't receive census forms. According to phone calls she received, census forms are mailed to residences but not post office boxes.

"You could send it to a post office box and she said we don't send to post office boxes," said Geller. "I don't answer questions over the phone but yes, it scared me a little bit because I thought, well, I didn't get the form, it is mandatory. What's going on here?"

Geller said she contacted the Randolph County Sheriff's Office and FBI after receiving another suspicious call Sunday night.

"You could easily be confused. I think you're more vulnerable especially in the country," said Geller.

Geller said a gentleman called her and stated that he was with the U.S. Department of Commerce. She said he was asking for personal information and that it was required by law.

"This commerce survey was something that was ongoing and mandatory," said Geller. "I got so angry about it actually thinking about it afterwards last night; I called the sheriff and the FBI."

There are some situations in which the U.S. Census Bureau makes phone calls to respondents.

"He sounded like he was a nice person, someone you could put your trust in," said Geller.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, "On Sunday, April 11 through mid-August, the Census Bureau will call households who have responded to the 2010 Census if we need to clarify any answers about the number of people living at the address.

   ·  Basically, if any of the answers the household provided on the form
      they returned indicates some uncertainty about who should have been
      included as a household member, we will call to get a better
      understanding of the situation, and then use our census residence
      rules to resolve the uncertainties.

   ·  These calls are simply to clarify answers that have been given and to
      make sure we count everyone once, only once and in the right place.

   ·  Not every household will receive a call.  The Census Bureau estimates
      that we may need to call about 8 million households over the
      four-month period.

   ·  A few scenarios might warrant a call:

         o  If the number given in response to Question 1 on the
            household's census form  (about how many people were living at
            the address) does not match the number of people for whom
            information was provided, we will follow-up to make sure we
            have an accurate count and that we have information for each
            person living at the address.

         o  If "yes" was checked for the question asking if the person
            sometimes lives or stays elsewhere for any person for whom
            information was provided, we will follow-up to clarify whether
            they should be counted at this address and to ensure they won't
            be double-counted elsewhere.

         o  If the response to Question 2 indicates that additional people
            were staying at the address on April 1 but were not included in
            the household's count, we will follow-up to clarify whether
            those persons should have been included at this address and, if
            so, to collect the census data for them.

         o  If the household has more than six people, we may follow-up to
            collect the information not asked of these additional
            residents, as we indicated on the form.  (Space limitations on
            the questionnaire allowed only enough room for a few of the
            census questions to be asked for Persons 7 through 12.)

         o  If we suspect we have received duplicate information about a
            housing unit or individual, we will follow-up to make sure
            people are not counted twice in the census.  In some instances,
            such as a suspected duplicate within the same census block, we
            will have a census worker follow-up in person to resolve the
            apparent duplication.

   ·  The interviewers will ask about information that came from a form a
      household mailed back to us (either one they received at their
      housing unit or a Be Counted form), or from an in-person interview
      with a census worker.

   ·  The interviewers will call phone numbers that were provided by the
      respondent on their census questionnaire or that come from the use of
      a commercial phone number look-up service.

   ·  These calls will not include any follow-up with households who
      returned an incomplete form, such as only providing the number of
      residents.  Incomplete forms will require the Census Bureau to send a
      census worker to follow-up in person.

   ·  After we clarify the information, we will update the household's
      final census response data with the collected information.

Providing information to the Census Bureau is safe.

   ·  The information collected over the phone, as well as provided on the
      census form or to a census worker in-person, is kept confidential.

   ·  By law, the Census Bureau cannot share respondents' individually
      identifiable answers with anyone, including tribal housing
      authorities, other federal agencies or law enforcement entities. All
      Census Bureau employees take the oath of nondisclosure and are sworn
      for life to protect the confidentiality of the data. The penalty for
      unlawful disclosure is a fine of up to $250,000 or imprisonment of up
      to five years, or both.

You can identify that the interviewer is from the Census Bureau.

   ·  The caller will identify themselves as working for the U.S. Census
      Bureau and that the purpose of their call is to help the Census
      Bureau take the most accurate census and to ensure we have counted
      everyone at the right address.

   ·  After confirming they have reached the correct household, the caller
      will provide the household an approval number from the Office of
      Management and Budget (0607-0946) and its expiration date (12/31/2010
      ).  This number allows us to conduct this survey and requires the
      household's participation. The interview will take approximately 10
      minutes and may be monitored and recorded to evaluate the
      interviewer's performance.

   ·  If the interviewer calls and nobody answers the phone, he or she will
      leave a message requesting the household to return the call. In
      addition, a specific case identification number will be provided so
      the household can call back and complete the interview.

   ·  The caller ID will likely show "U.S. Census Bureau."  If this text is
      not supported (such as on a cell phone), then the inbound toll-free
      number should show up.  The exact number depends on the language
      skill for which the call is made.  The possible numbers are:

         o  English:  866-851-2010
         o  Spanish:  866-859-2010
         o  Russian:  866-848-2010
         o  Korean:  866-874-2010
         o  Vietnamese:  866-863-2010
         o  Chinese:  866-881-2010
         o  TDD:  866-784-2010
   ·  If a household would like to confirm they have been contacted by the
      Census Bureau, they could call one of the numbers above and use the
      eight-digit case identification number they were provided to complete
      the interview.

   ·  The calls will originate from one of eleven call centers, which are
      located across the United States. Call centers will be located in:
         o  Lawrence, KS
         o  Phoenix, AZ
         o  Sandy, UT (2 call centers)
         o  Monticello, KY
         o  Kennesaw, GA
         o  Stockton, CA
         o  London, KY,
         o  Denver, CO
         o  Taylorsville/Murray, UT
         o  Ogden, UT

What the 2010 Census DOES NOT Ask

   ·  2010 Census takers will not ask you for your social security number,
      bank account number or credit card number.
   ·  2010 Census takers never solicit for donations and will never contact
      you by e-mail.
   ·  2010 Census takers will not ask about your citizenship status."

"I'm not even sure that I would want to answer the phone again to tell you the truth. I'm not really naturally confrontational," said Geller.

©2010 KAIT All rights reserved.

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