0

Local census officials warn of possibly bogus census forms

By Valerie Baldowski

vbaldowski@henryherald.com

Census officials in Henry County are warning the public about allegedly fake census forms that are now in circulation.

"Fake census forms have begun popping up around the country, and officials want citizens to be aware of the bogus forms," said Julie Hoover-Ernst, county communications director and chairman of the media subcommittee of the Henry County Complete Count Committee.

"The legitimate 2010 census questionnaire asks for the name, age, sex and race of every person living in the household," she said. "The fraudulent forms may look legitimate, but they ask questions that are not found on the real Census 2010 form," she said. "The fake forms are asking for Social Security numbers and/or a mother's maiden name, but the real census form will not ask these questions."

Hoover-Ernst said that, thus far, she has not received any reports of the fake forms appearing in Henry County. The Henry County Complete Count Committee -- charged with overseeing the census count in Henry County -- learned about the presence of the bogus forms in some other areas Friday through communication from the Georgia Complete Count Committee, said Hoover-Ernst.

If a resident receives a census form, which does not appear to be legitimate, Hoover-Ernst said, the recipient should be aware of possible fraud attempts by the sender. "Fake census forms are coming from criminals looking to steal identities," she said. "If a census form asks you for your Social Security number, throw it away. I do not want to discourage people from filling out their census forms ... the information is critical," she said. "[But] be mindful of these kinds of invasive and personal questions."

Participation in the national census is mandatory, under federal law.

"If the Census Bureau has not received your completed questionnaire by April 30, you may be visited by census enumerators, in order to obtain your household's information," Hoover-Ernst said. "Be sure to ask for proper identification from workers before answering any questions."

Susan Burnore, local office manager for the Stockbridge Census Bureau, advised that, if someone receives a fraudulent request, they can report it to the Census Bureau via e-mail at ITSO.Fraud.Reporting@census.gov.

Burnore said Census employees will be properly identified. "Census workers will all have census badges, and will carry black canvas bags with a white panel on the side with lettering, saying, 'U.S. Census Bureau,'" added Burnore. "The census badges have the worker's name, not a photo -- but you may ask the worker for a photo ID to compare to the name on the badge."

Hoover-Ernst said individuals needing help in filling out the 2010 Census form, or to file their information by telephone, may call one of the following telephone questionnaire assistance numbers for assistance: In English: 1-866-872-6868; Chinese: 1-866-935-2010; Korean: 1-866-955-2010;

Russian: 1-866-965-2010; Spanish: 1-866-928-2010; Vietnamese: 1-866-945-2010.