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Monday, January 18, 2010

Alert: Census e-mail was fake

The census is approaching, and con artists are riding on its coattails, says the Better Business Bureau, which is warning about a census-related e-mail that pretends to be from the BBB.

The fake e-mail asks people to provide sensitive information that could lead to identity theft.

In an alert sent Wednesday, the Better Business Bureau of New Hampshire, along with chapters in other states, said the e-mail was a fake, noting that no census information will be requested or gathered by e-mail.

In March, census forms will be delivered to every residence in the United States and Puerto Rico, with 10 questions.

The 2010 census will ask for name, gender, age, race, ethnicity, relationship and whether you own or rent your home. Answers are protected by law and are not shared with anyone; under federal law, the penalty for unlawful disclosure is a fine of up to $250,000 or imprisonment for up to five years, or both.

When filled out, it should be mailed back in the postage-paid envelope. Residences that don’t return the form will receive a later visit from a census taker, who will ask the questions from the form.

Under the U.S. Constitution, the Census Bureau must get a completed form back from every residence in the United States – more than 130 million addresses.

Census-takers must present an ID badge that contains a Department of Commerce watermark and expiration date. The census-taker may also be carrying a bag with a Census Bureau logo.

The census-taker will provide you with supervisor contact information and/or the local census office phone number for verification, if asked.

The census taker will only ask questions that appear on the census form and will not ask for Social Security numbers, bank account numbers or credit card numbers.

For information about the 2010 census, visit www.2010census.gov. For information about the New Hampshire Better Business Bureau, call 224 1991 or check bbb.org.