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Cooperate With the Census, But Be Careful

HOY, News Report , Mercedes Fernandez, Translated by Cristina Fernandez-Pereda Posted: Aug 28, 2009

CHICAGO -- On April 1, 2010, more than 300 million people will be counted in the United States in a process that will involve all social sectors, an event that takes place every 10 years.

With residents' safety in mind, the Police Department of Elgin, Ill. published a statement alerting people of the potential cases of fraud or identity theft that could be perpetrated by those trying to take advantage of the good will of citizens who want to cooperate with the Census, especially with the field representative who verify addresses.

Even though the U.S. Census Bureau made it clear that those operations have concluded, it is still important to take measures of precaution because some regions may still be conducting local community surveys.

The police's statement indicates that more than 140,000 Census workers will count each person in the United States and will gather information about their name, age, gender, race and other relevant data.

"The big question is: how do you know the difference between a Census worker and a con man?" the report asks.

Lt. Thomas O'Herron, of the Elgin Police Community Initiatives Division, said that when a resident suspects that the interviewer is not who he says he is, he should not provide any private information and should call the police immediately to report what happened.

"We have to verify their identity. They (the interviewers) carry a document, a briefcase and a computerized device to collect information," O'Herron said.

The same statement, which echoes the recommendations of the Better Business Bureau (BBB), warns citizens not to give their Social Security number, credit card or banking information to anyone, "even if pollsters say they need it."

Eventually, the Census workers may contact people by phone, mail or in person -- but not by email. "Never open a link or attachment in an email supposedly from the Census Bureau," the statement warned.

Meanwhile, BBB spokesperson Alison Southwick said that the operations of door-to-door address confirmation have already concluded, but further studies such as community surveys are still being conducted, which may send more Census workers into the field.

Muriel Jackson, spokesperson for the Census Bureau, also stressed that even though the address confirmation operations are over, it is still important to let the public know these recommendations.

The first phase of Census 2010 was conducted in June this year with the verification of addresses around the country.

Related Articles:

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Ethnic Media Indispensable Says U.S. Census

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