I heard an advertisement on the radio just yesterday, recruiting people who’d like to work part-time as census-takers for the 2010 Census. It gave a phone number and a website to contact them. Since it used a “.gov” domain, I know the ad was legitimate.
I also know that every single thing the government tries to do is almost immediately used by criminals to mount some sort of scam. See also: Social Security, USPS jobs, economic stimulus funding, tax returns and just about anything else you can think of.
So consider this a preemptive strike: somebody, very soon, is going to start running a “Census Bureau Jobs” scam.
If you get an email offering you a job as a census-taker, just delete it. It won’t be legitimate. Neither will any newspaper ads that direct you to someone who wants you to pay for information on these jobs (like the old Postal Service jobs scam).
There are only three ways to get the official information, and they all involve contacting the Bureau directly:
- Online: visit http://2010.census.gov/2010censusjobs/. See that “.gov” at the end? That means it’s a legit US government website.
- Call 1-866-861-2010
- Contact your local Census Office. This information is available at the above website, so it’s sort of a repeat of #1.
I haven’t even heard anything about anyone using Census Bureau jobs as the basis for a scam yet, but I know it will happen.
So, now you know in advance. Now that’s vigilance!
Here is a list of things that literally anyone can do:
- Run an advertisement in the classified section of the newspaper
- Start a website
- Send an email message
- Tape a poster or sign to a telephone pole
This is an important fact to remember when you’re considering whether or not to call a phone number or give your name and other personal information out over the Internet.
I was reminded of this when I heard that the U.S. Postal Service jobs scam I wrote about just the other day had showed up in one of the newspapers here in Northwest Indiana. An employee here at REGIONAL called the number, just to see if it was the same rip-off I posted about. She told me, “The first thing out of her mouth was, ‘It’s $129.95. Will that be credit or debit?'”
There is no vetting process in the classifieds. Newspapers do not check out alleged businesses before running their ads. I could call them up right now and, as long as I paid for it, run an ad that said, “Build your own flying saucer out of household materials! Capable of inter-planetary travel. Seats 4 adults. Plans only $99.95” and they would run it (just like they would also run one that said, “Be a secret shopper! $483/day!”). They just don’t have the resources to verify the claims of every advertiser.
The Internet is the same way, only worse. Anybody can create a website, and make it look very slick and professional. There is absolutely no physical barrier to lying on a website, or setting up a fake business that just steals money or personal information.
Heck, I could say this site is “as seen on MSNBC,” even though it hasn’t been. Yet.
Actually, when you link to a CNN.com article, as I’ve done a few times, a link to your article shows up at the bottom of their page in the “From the Blogs” section. So I could say the Fraud Prevention Unit is “as seen on CNN,” right?
Okay, fine. I’ll have to wait for my Larry King interview. Or maybe an hour-long special! Or…
Finally, an employment scam post that isn’t about mystery shopping!
I signed up for the Indiana Attorney General’s Office consumer alert messages a while back. I strongly suggest you do the same. I’ll just print the full text of today’s alert, since it’s short:
Attorney General Greg Zoeller and the U.S. Postal Service caution Hoosiers about a scam that offers a study guide to help pass a postal exam with the promise of a full-time job. There is no truth to this offer. The U.S. Postal Service is not currently hiring any full-time workers. Furthermore, the information found in the study guide priced at $129.95, is actually offered free of charge at libraries around the state.
This is a classic scam: charging money for information that’s available free of charge. Throwing in the promise of a full-time position is just a tactic to get people who might be looking for work to act quickly.
I’m guessing there’s a reason the Post Office isn’t hiring at the moment: anybody who already has a full-time P.O. job is going to hold onto it for dear life until the economy straightens out, even if they were considering quitting or retiring before.
I don’t blame ’em, do you?