The Better Business Bureau recently issued a helpful, cautionary announcement regarding the upcoming U.S. Census. You can read it in its entirety at this link. The main pieces of advice (copied directly from the article) are:
1. If a U.S. Census worker knocks on your door, they will have a badge, a handheld device, a Census Bureau canvas bag and a confidentiality notice. Ask to see their identification and their badge before answering their questions. However, you should never invite anyone you don’t know into your home.
2. Census workers are currently only knocking on doors to verify address information. Do not give your Social Security number, credit card or banking information to anyone, even if they claim they need it for the U.S. Census. While the Census Bureau might ask for basic financial information, such as a salary range, it will not ask for Social Security, bank account or credit card numbers nor will employees solicit donations.
3. Eventually, Census workers may contact you by telephone, mail or in person at home. However, they will not contact you by e-mail, so be on the look out for e-mail scams impersonating the Census. Never click on a link or open any attachments in an e-mail that are supposedly from the U.S. Census Bureau.
Additionally, the U.S. Census site provides guidelines for how to address a census taker, including asking to see government ID, that a census taker will never ask to enter your home, and finally, to call your regional census bureau if you are unsure if the person is legit.
The way to avoid a visit all together is to fill out your census form early. According to the Census 2010 website, no one should come to your home if you submit the written form early. If you submit the form early and still receive a visit, it should certainly increase your suspicion that the census taker may be a faker. If you submit your form a little late (after your house has been assigned to a census taker), then you may receive a visit in error.
“What if I don’t fill in the form? Many residents who do not complete and return a 2010 Census form will receive a replacement form. If no form is mailed back, residents can expect a personal visit from a census taker some time after March 2010. The census taker will ask you the questions on the form, record your answers and then submit the form for your household. Learn more about the census taker.” (http://2010.census.gov/2010census/how/questions.php)
The site also has info on how to make sure you do not fill out a counterfeit form, what information you are required by law to provide, etc.