April 13, 2009

Clipboards vs. Computers: Spot the Real Census Worker

DOES ANYONE else think this might not be the best way to collect data? US Census Bureau workers are walking neighborhoods, verifying addresses with handheld computers. They may knock on doors to ask about additional living quarters, like guest houses.

But here in skittish Atwater Village, with our fake newspaper salesmen and fake phone salesmen and fake curb-painting salesmen, neighbors are understandably wary. From a reader:
"Last Thursday leaving for work a guy walking from house to house told me he was working with the census bureau.

I thought nothing of it as he looked professional enough and had a pretty official looking windbreaker with a census logo and a clipboard.

But then I got the following email: 'Everyone be on the lookout for census surveys going around door-to-door. These are FAKE, so DO NOT ANSWER YOUR DOOR when they come knocking. They are casing your place for breaking and entering and robbery. The Police Dept. notified us to this latest scam. Be Constantly Careful!'"
The Census Bureau fact sheet says nothing about logo windbreakers and clipboards. It says workers can be identified by handheld computers and badges. So "constantly careful" seems like good advice here.

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