Officials are warning residents of a phone scam

Some Carbondale residents have reported getting phone calls with a female automated voice claiming to be from the U.S. Census Bureau. The call asks people to take part in a survey about diabetes.

However, the call is not from the Census Bureau, said Lydia Ortiz, a spokeswoman with the U.S. Census Bureau's Chicago office

"That's not a census person," Ortiz said. "Unfortunately, it's something that's popped up."

Natalie Bauer, deputy press secretary for Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, said the attorney general's office has only received one call about the issue, but does consider the automated call to be a scam.

"It's a typical telephone scam that's intended to obtain your personal information, most likely for the purposes of identity theft," Bauer said. "If you do receive this call, the best thing to do is hang up the phone and don't provide any information."

Ortiz said there are some scenarios, however, where the Census Bureau will call a household. This will occur when a clarification is needed about answers to a question on the census form, or to clarify how many people live in a certain household - for example, if two forms were mailed back containing different information about the same address, or if a form was incomplete.

"The Census Bureau is only going to ask you what's on the census form," Ortiz said. "If somebody is calling you and asking for something that's not on the census form, that's definitely a red flag."

The Census Bureau estimates about 8 million households will receive these follow-up calls.

The call will not be automated, however, as in the case of the diabetes survey call. Instead, callers from the Census Bureau should clearly identify themselves as such, should say why they are placing the phone call, and should provide the household with an approval number from the Office of Management and Budget and its expiration date. The approval number is what allows the bureau to conduct the survey.

In addition, for phones with Caller ID, the phone number should be toll-free, 866 numbers, and should end with the digits 2010.

Callers from the Census Bureau will not ask for social security, bank account or credit card numbers.

If people believe they have received a fraudulent census phone call, the Census Bureau suggests they contact both the bureau and the Federal Trade Commission.



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