Safety Tips During Census Time
With U.S. Census questionnaires set to begin arriving in mailboxes early next week, Harris County officials want to ensure that residents know what to expect as the 2010 Census gets fully under way. Several tips will help residents avoid becoming the victims of potential scams.
“As the third-largest county in the nation, our communities stand to gain billions in federal dollars for transportation, infrastructure, health care, essential social services and more—but a complete count is necessary,” said Harris County Judge Ed Emmett in a statement.
Census forms will be mailed out on March 16 and must be returned by April 15. Harris County residents should not expect to have a Census worker knock on their doors unless they don’t return their completed questionnaires on time. But after the deadline, Census representatives hit the streets to ensure everyone in Harris County has participated.
To protect personal information from potential scams, residents should keep in mind the following:
- This week, residents will receive a letter from the Census Bureau director notifying them that their household will soon receive a form in the mail, a phone call from the Census Bureau, or a visit from a Census Bureau representative.
- Never give Social Security numbers or other sensitive financial information, including bank account numbers.
- The Census Bureau will never contact you via email, and questionnaires may not be completed online.
- Census employees will carry an official identification badge with an expiration date and a Department of Commerce watermark.
- Census takers are trained to conduct business outside the door, so residents should be cautious of people who insist on entering their households.
The Census gathers information to produce statistics, minus any identifying characteristics, and responses will not be shared with anyone, including other federal agencies and law enforcement. Additionally, all Census Bureau employees take the oath of nondisclosure and are sworn for life to protect the confidentiality of the data.