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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Beware of census scam artists

 •  Some census forms a no-show

By Michael Tsai
Advertiser Staff Writer

Tommy Yamamoto knew something was up when a caller from Indiana said he was gathering information for "a different census."

"I'm not a young guy," said Yamamoto, 84, of Waialua. "I've been through all of this crap."

When Yamamoto wouldn't bite, the caller became belligerent and Yamamoto ended the call.

With the census mail-back deadline fast approaching and thousands of census takers preparing to conduct door-to-door follow-ups, the decennial census-scam season appears to be under way.

On yesterday's Perry & Price Show on KSSK AM 590, the radio hosts followed up on a caller's tip and contacted a suspected scammer operating in Colorado. The man put the hosts on hold and hung up.

Kathleen Popa, manager of the Wai'anae Census Office, said her office has heard of potential phone scams aimed at getting people's personal and financial information.

The U.S. Census Bureau is conducting follow-up calls for people who mailed in a census questionnaire, but only if there is an issue about the person's response to one of the form's 10 questions.

Popa said legitimate calls from census workers will be specific to the questions contained on the 2010 census form. Requests for Social Security numbers, credit card or bank information, or immigration status are not legitimate and should be reported to the police and to a local census office.

Winnie Wilson, manager of the Honolulu Census Office, also warns residents to be aware of potential scams once enumerator visits begin next month.

Census enumerators will not ask for personal information and will not ask to come inside.

"For everyone's safety, they cannot go inside a residence," Wilson said. "It's not what we do."


For census updates, clarifications and other information, visit www.ask.census2010.gov.