Clark Howard: Don't Get Taken By Census Scams

ATLANTA,None — Census scams are popping up in Georgia, and consumer advisor Clark Howard wants you to be able to spot them.

Howard said if a person calling himself a census worker asks for your Social Security number, it is a scam. Don't fall for it.

One Georgia woman thought she had a bogus census form. The more Melissa Suggs filled it out, the more suspicious she became.

"They were asking how much my mortgage was, and asking me some intrusive things and that kind of just threw me off and I wasn't really sure about some of the questions," said Suggs.

Then the form asked something that really threw her off.

It wanted to know when she usually left home to go to work. Some of Suggs' neighbors have recently been burglarized.

"That's what concerned me ... I was like, 'Is somebody trying to break in or are they trying to burglarize my home while I'm away?'"

Suggs decided not to send in the form. She really thought it was a scam.

But here's the deal: What Melissa got was the "American Community Survey." It is not a scam. It's a new term for the old census long form.

And every year, about 2 percent of households will get this. But some, like Suggs, may not like it.

"I found it very intrusive. I think it's enough for them to know how many people are in the house and their birthday. I figured that would be enough information for them."

What's Clark's advice?

He says the form is obnoxious and intrusive, and he suggests you only give the government what is required by the constitution: your name, your age, and who else lives in your house. The government can fine you $100 for not completely filling out the form.

Clark says the government conducts the long-form survey to provide businesses with demographic data. Businesses aren't the only ones who can access this data. You can see it, too.

Here's the link: Census Forms Demographic Data

And, if you'd like to see the questions on the American Community Survey, we have a link for that as well:

Here's the link: American Community Survey Questions