Thursday, May 13, 2010

Census Scam or Census Joke?

My Caller ID shows 866-851-2010.

It's a voicemail message from the "U.S. Census Bureau" with a case number.

Sounds pretty official.

I call it.

Before I give any information, I ask the person to verify that this is, indeed, the Census Bureau.

He says go to Census.Gov and click on contact us.

I go to the website.  There is no contact us.  I tell him.

He puts me on hold. 

While I'm on hold, I Google this number and see lots of information asking the same questions I'm asking myself.  Is this real or is this a scam?  It's running 80-20 to the scam side.

He comes back and tells me to go to 2010.Census.Gov.

I go to that website.  I click on this site's contact us.

The toll free number is not 866-851-2010.

I say, "Sorry, but I answered my census.  I'm not going to verify any information."  I hang up.

You're probably thinking like me, is this a scam or what?

Curious.  I resume my internet search.

I find a page with "Preparing for a Census call" for its title.

There's the number 866-851-2010.

I call it and ask again for verification.  I can't resist giving advice and actually end up with a supervisor.

He and I share a laugh and I express my sympathy for the job he must be facing.

I am sympathetic.  These people are calling eight million people in the U.S. and Puerto Rico trying to extract information from them with very little to go on.

Skepticism is bound to prevail.

In the end, I believe that, indeed, this was a call from a call center contracted for by the U.S. Census.

So, answering my own question that is the title to this blog, the answer is "no" I don't think it is a scam.

And, though I don't think Uncle Sam intended a joke, I think they need a little coordination between their websites and their call centers.

Since you only have once every ten years to get this right, I suggest you hurry.

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