April 26, 2018
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Police warn of census scams

BANGOR, Maine — Come Monday, field staff with the U.S. Census Bureau will begin the process of going door to door as part of the nationwide effort to count every man, woman and child in the country.

It is a process that Bangor police Sgt. Paul Edwards said Thursday will continue through mid- to late August.

But census time also brings out scam artists, who often use census collection periods to try stealing people’s identities. To that end, Edwards referred the public to the Census Bureau’s website, which offers some easy ways to protect one’s personal information.

The bureau recommends that those who are visited by a census taker check to make sure he or she is wearing an ID badge that says “U.S. Census Bureau” on it. If the badge is absent, residents can call a regional census office to verify they are in a survey. In Maine, there are regional offices in Bangor, Portland and Augusta.

A common tactic used by scammers is “phishing,” which attempts to get people to provide such sensitive information as user names, passwords, Social Security numbers, bank account or credit card details by masquerading as a trustworthy entity in an e-mail, the Census Bureau notes.

Phishing typically is carried out by e-mail and often directs users to enter sensitive information on a fake website that looks almost identical to the legitimate one.

On its website, the Census Bureau states that it never:

• Conducts the census over the Internet.

• Asks for a person’s full Social Security number.

• Asks for money or a donation.

• Sends requests on behalf of a political party.

• Requests PIN codes, passwords or similar access information for credit cards, bank or other financial accounts.

Those who think they have received a scam e-mail about the census are urged not to reply or click on any links within the e-mail and not to open any attachments. The links or attachments might contain codes that could infect computers.

Recipients instead should forward the e-mail or website URL to the Census Bureau at ITSO.Fraud.Reporting@census.gov. After the e-mail has been forwarded, it should be deleted. The Census Bureau won’t send a confirmation e-mail after receiving forwarded information, but it will investigate and send its findings.

For mail and telephone scams, contact the Federal Trade Commission.

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