Be on the lookout for census scams, BBB says

By Jamel Major - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - There is only one government-backed census you are responsible for filling out and sending back.  But that is not stopping scam artists from trying to get your information through fake census forms.

One potential target, who asked not to be identified, said when she received a form from the "Council of Seniors Census of Senior Citizens" she knew something wasn't right.

"It just had too many things to concern me as being a fraud," she said. "It wasn't for real. It was for money."

After asking several questions on issues like health care and taxes, the census requests that a donation be made to "The Council of Seniors" in the form of a check or by credit card. It claims the contribution will help cover the printing and mailing costs of the survey.

"The fact that it was asking for donations - I didn't think that was the right thing to do," the woman said. "There was a voter number on it. I checked my voter card. Neither numbers coincided with my voter number."

Randy Hutchinson with the Better Business Bureau is urging seniors to be extra careful.

"They didn't grow up in a time when you needed to worry that a phone call or someone knocking at your door, or any piece of mail could be a scam," he said.

Hutchinson said some people may think the form is an official survey from the federal government, but it may be nothing more than a scam to obtain someone's credit card or personal information.

"When it comes to the census remember they're not going to contact you by email, and they're not going to be asking you for money," he said.

Meanwhile, scam targets like the woman we spoke to hope the scammers are caught.

"If this is something where someone is trying to scam money from seniors, I hope somewhere soon it gets a stop put to it," she said.

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