Fake census calls cause concerns in Pooler

By Don Logana - bio | email

POOLER, GA (WTOC) - Beware of phony census workers calling you.

A Pooler woman says her elderly parents were hounded by a person, claiming to be with the U.S. Census, digging for personal information.

There's one problem. The real U.S. Census won't call you.

While many of us filled out our census forms a few months ago, census workers are still going door to door for homes they may have missed.

That should be a warning sign, but a Pooler couple, thinking the person on the other end was legit and trying to clarify information she filled out, started answering all their questions including telling them they lived alone and were disabled.

When their daughter found out, she called police.

"It's frightening to know elderly people may be giving out this information when they think it is a government official, but it is not," Virginia Dennis told WTOC.

Dennis got this scare a few weeks ago when she was taking her 88-year-old mother to the doctor.

"She was saying she wished the census people would quit calling her. I said 'Mom, census people don't call you on the phone.what are they asking?' They're asking, do I have any children living with me? Do I live alone? Am I disabled? How old am I? Do I have illegal aliens living with me," Dennis said. "It really concerned me when they gave out the information they are disabled. They are elderly and nobody is living with them."

Dennis says her mom had already filled out a census form and sent it in, so she called Pooler police and reported the fake census calls.

"Older people who answer these questions over the phone may be putting themselves at risk," she said.

"That should in fact raise a red flag. It's not happening. Census is one on one," Chief Butch Chan, Pooler Police Department, told WTOC.

Chief Chan showed WTOC the police report. He says residents need to know, a real census worker will only come to your house and they will have identification.

"Don't give out any personal information over that telephone unless you know in fact who you are talking to," Chan said. "My recommendation would be to disconnect."

"They may be lulled into a false sense of security. Well, they didn't ask for my social security number, but I can give all this other information which may be just as dangerous," Dennis said.

Dennis hopes others heed the warning and just hang up.

"Whoever is looking for this information is not looking to use it for charitable reasons, I'm sure," she said.

Now here's the catch, there isn't much police can do if you don't report it and don't try and get a phone number. If you have caller ID, write the number down so police can trace the call and try to catch the fake census worker.

Dennis says her parents don't have caller ID, but they know, next time someone claims to be with the census, they will hang up.

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