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Consumer Advisory Bulletin-April 2010

The U.S. Census:
Be Counted, but Don't be Cheated

By Attorney General Tom Miller

Iowans received the 2010 U.S. Census form in the mail in March -- our share of 130 million forms sent to all U.S. residents. I received my form, I sent it in, and I strongly urge you to join me if you haven’t sent your form in already.

Let me explain why I think the Census is a good and important thing, and then I’ll mention a couple of scams that could crop up trying to trick you into giving out your personal financial information or trying to cheat you out of money.

The Census is crucial for Iowa. It determines our share of federal funds going to cities, counties and the State of Iowa. It determines our representation by federal Congressional districts, and it affects city, county and state voting districts. Census information also is very important to all kinds of future planning decisions.

Here’s how the Census works: The Census form is ten easy questions aimed at counting every person residing in the U.S. By law, individually-identifiable answers cannot be shared with anyone, including federal agencies or law enforcement agencies. We are required to respond by mailing in the postage-paid envelope. Census workers go door-to-door starting May 1 to residences where people have not returned their forms. Workers will not enter your home, and they will have official identification.

Here’s how the Census does NOT work: It does NOT conduct the census via email or the Internet or telephone. It does NOT ask for your Social Security Number, bank account or credit card number. It does NOT ask for money or a donation.

SO: It is a scam if you receive an email asking for your personal or financial information -- never click on a link or open an attachment in such an email. It is a scam if someone calls you and asks for your personal financial information. It is a scam if you receive a phony form in the mail that asks for such information. It is a scam if a person comes to your door and asks for your personal financial information, or for any kind of payment. [For more info on potential scams, go to Beware of Census Scams, prepared by Iowa Legal Aid for the Legal Hotline for Older Iowans.]

To see a copy of the REAL Census form, or for other information, go to www.2010.census.gov. That site also can tell you how to report any questionable contacts you may receive by email or phone or at your door. You also may call 816-994-2000 for questions or information.

For more information or to file a complaint, contact the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division, Des Moines, Iowa 50319. Call 515-281-5926. The Attorney General's web site is: www.IowaAttorneyGeneral.gov.


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