With preparations underway for the 2010 Census — one of the most important undertakings in the U.S. — the Miami- Dade Consumer Services Department is cautioning consumers to learn how to spot potential scams.
By knowing exactly what to expect from the Census Bureau, you can avoid becoming a victim of a crime.
Every U.S. household will receive a short, 10- question form in the mail within the next few months. It requires that you fill in the form to account for everyone living at your address as of Apr. 1, 2010 and includes a prepaid envelope so you can mail it back as soon as possible.
• Any request for census information from the Census Bureau will be marked clearly as coming from the U.S. Census Bureau and as OFFICIAL BUSINESS of the United States.
• You will receive a letter from the Census Bureau director notifying you that in a few days, your household will receive a form in the mail, a phone call from the Census Bureau or a visit from a Census Bureau representative.
• The Census Bureau will never ask for any information to be submitted online. A census worker only will come to your home to follow-up if they do not receive your form, as they are required by law. If someone knocks on your door and identifies himself/ herself as a Census worker:
• Ask to see their official government badge marked with just their name.
• You may also ask them for a picture ID from another source to confirm their identity.
• Some census workers might carry a “U.S. Census Bureau” bag.
If you still are not certain about their identity, call the Regional Census Center toll-free number (1-800-923-8282) to confirm they are employed by the Census Bureau. Most importantly, the Census Bureau will never, under any circumstances, ask to enter your home.
Participating in the Census is critical because it counts every resident in the U.S. to determine how much money each state will receive from more than $400 billion in federal funds as well as the number of seats allocated to each state in the U.S. House of Representatives. It happens only once every 10 years. Private information — such as names, addresses, social security numbers or telephone numbers — is never published. The information is used to produce statistics. Your answers cannot be used against you by any government agency or court.
To see what questions will be on the forms, go to the Census Bureau website. There, you also will find answers to common questions about how information is collected and used.
The Miami-Dade Consumer Services Department takes consumer complaints and provides general information on consumer issues. For more information, log on to www.miamidade.gov/csd or call 305- 375-3677.