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Crooks could pose as Census workers
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The 2010 Census Bureau "American Community Survey" process has begun. For those unfamiliar with the Census Bureau, it is a federal agency established and mandated through the United States Constitution, with the first census taking place in 1790. The last census was taken in the year 2000. Decennial U.S. Census figures are based on actual counts of persons dwelling in U.S. residential structures. The basic function of the census is to develop national demographic and population data of citizens, non-citizen legal residents, non-citizen long-term visitors and illegal immigrants. The information gathered helps the government make tax revenue spending decisions. According to the Census Bureau website, each "...question helps to determine how more than $400 billion will be allocated to communities across the country." All households are subject to the census process and the questions to be asked, according to the Census Bureau, are compulsory (by law).

I am writing about the census to educate the public about possible problems that unscrupulous criminals create under the guise of the census process, and to provide tips on how to avoid becoming victimized by persons falsely representing themselves as legitimate government census worker.

The current American Community Survey has ten basic questions - none of which include personal information such as your social security, driver's license number, bank account numbers or checking account information. And although the survey is being billed as just ten questions, there may be more, depending on your answers to any of the first ten. If someone claims to be a census-taker asks any of the aforementioned questions, you should stop the process immediately. You can call the regional Census office, located in Seattle, Washington, at (800) 233-3308 to determine if a census worker is a legitimate employee of the Census Bureau. There is also a "local" Census Bureau office in Stockton that can be reached at (209) 235-3461.

In any event, the census representative should, at least, have a picture identification, a business card, a handheld device used to collect information, a Census Bureau canvas bag, and a confidentiality notice. If the person seems suspicious, do not hesitate to call your local police department. Also, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) has been removed from the census process, and as such, its representatives are not authorized to participate in the census-taking process.

Regardless of how comfortable you are with the apparent legitimacy of a census worker, never allow them into your home. If you are asked for any kind of donation, you should suspect that the person is a fraud.

The Census Bureau will not ask you for an e-mail address, as it is not that agency's practice to contact people by e-mail. They may, however, ask for your phone number in case follow-up information is needed. Never reply to email messages or web pages claiming to be of the Census Bureau, as they will most certainly be a scam.

There are thousands of criminals who look for any opportunity to cheat, defraud or scam the innocent. Be alert and participate in the Census process only once you are certain that you know the census representative is legitimate. The Census Bureau has a website at, which provides additional information.