Old Wives' Tales
Radio & TV
Toxin du jour
Claim: People posing as census workers are attempting to elicit personal information over the telephone.
Example: [Collected on the Internet, 2000]
Origins: Did this really happen? We don't know. Citizens have been reporting this scam to the police, but that doesn't mean someone actually tried to pull it on them. People often notify the police about things they've heard of but haven't necessarily experienced themselves.
Census workers do make phone calls and door-to-door visits to try to track down households that did not return their census forms, but they don't ask for Social Security numbers. They also carry identification badges and will give you the phone number of their Census Bureau offices so you can verify their identities. In any case, this is an area where plain old common sense is more important than knowing "the truth." Don't give out personal information to anyone whose identity you cannot ascertain, over the telephone or by any other means. Anyone who balks at your attempts to verify the origin and purpose of their request is almost certainly up to no good.
Last updated: 6 January 2008
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