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Updated May 19, 2010From March 1 through August 2010, some 630,000 census takers will fan out across the nation visiting households that failed to respond to the 2010 Census questionnaire. Unfortunately, along with the legitimate census takers employed by the U.S. Census Bureau, many scumbags posing as census takers will fan out across the nation trying to steal identities, rob homes and who knows what else. How can you identify a legitimate U.S. Census Bureau census taker?
A Real Census Taker:
- Will ALWAYS have an ID badge that contains a Department of Commerce watermark and expiration date.
- The census taker may also be carrying a black canvass bag with a Census Bureau logo..
- Will NEVER ask to enter your home.
- Will ONLY ask the ten questions that appear on the census form.
- Will NEVER ask for your Social Security number or any other financial information.
- Will NEVER ask or suggest that you submit information to the census online. There is no legitimated Web site for entering census information.
What if You Still Doubt the Census Worker's Identity?
If for any reason you are not sure of the census worker's identity, immediately call your regional U.S. Census Center to confirm they are employed by the Census Bureau. Misrepresenting oneself as a census worker is a federal felony.
Do You Have to Talk to the Census Taker?
Yes. Participation in the 2010 Census is vital and required by law, (Section 221, of Title 13 of the U.S. Code). However, criminal charges are rarely filed. Instead, the Census Bureau tries to get everyone to participate by explaining the importance of answering the questions and demonstrating how the census information helps communities.
Could a Real Census Taker "Go Rogue?"
All legitimate U.S. census workers undergo FBI background checks, including fingerprint screening. Just remember that should you have any doubt about the identity or the intentions of the census taker, you should call your regional Census Center before answering any questions. Also remember that the census taker should never ask to enter your home, or ask for your Social Security number or any other financial information.
What About Privacy and Confidentiality?
All employees of the Census Bureau - including census takers - are sworn for life under federal law to protect your data. Census employees who violate that oath face criminal prosecution. Under the law, the penalty for unlawful disclosure is a fine of up to $250,000 or imprisonment for up to 5 years, or both.
By law, the Census Bureau and all of its employees are prohibited from sharing your census answers with anyone -- not the IRS, not the FBI, not the CIA, and not with any other government agency. The penalty for unlawful disclosure is a fine of up to $250,000 or imprisonment of up to 5 years, or both.