As the U.S.
Census Bureau works to compile information about households and
businesses this year, swindlers are also working to get that information
— and they are taking advantage of the census to do it. In spite
of the warnings we’ve been hearing for more than a year now, it’s
And now that
the census is moving into its second phase, in which hundreds of
thousands of temporary workers travel door to door to follow up
at addresses where residents didn’t respond to mailed-in questionnaires,
the opportunities for fraud could grow.
the Bureau’s publicity campaign has been preparing people and organizations
not only for the census, but the for possibility of census-related
fraud. "Please note that the [census] form is not available
online," says a video produced by the Bureau, "and do
not fill out any form that claims it is the 2010 Census questionnaire
sent to you via e-mail or that you are directed to on the internet;
it will be a scam."
Safeguard Properties Inc., which maintains defaulted and foreclosed
properties for its mortgage industry clients, has reportedly received
2,500 calls from people identifying themselves as Census Bureau
employees and asking for a wide variety of data on the vacant real
estate. The company has since created an 800 number specifically
for Census workers, in an attempt to short-circuit potential swindlers.
"We cannot just give that information to anybody that calls,"
company founder and Chairman Robert Klein told