Posted Tuesday, October 27, 2009
The Census Bureau has finished with the first phase of the Census and is no longer confirming addresses
The next step in the Census process is that households will receive their Census forms in the mail in March. All households that do not return their Census forms will be visited by a Census representative. To make sure everyone is clear on the 2010 Census, here's some helpful tips:How to Identify a Census Field Representative
- If a U.S. Census Bureau employee knocks on your door, here are some recognition tips to assure the validity of the field representative:
- The field representative must present an ID badge that contains: photograph of the field representative, Department of Commerce watermark, and expiration date.
- The field representative will provide you with supervisor contact information and/or the Regional Office phone number for verification, if asked.
- The field representative will provide you with a letter from the Census Bureau Director on official letterhead.
- The field representative may be carrying a laptop and/or bag with a Census Bureau logo.
When Field Representatives will be Going Door-to-Door
- From April to July 2010, we will knock on the door of every household that does not mail back a completed 2010 Census form.
- We need your help — it’s critical that you take just 10 minutes to fill out and mail back your form rather than wait for a census worker to show up on your doorstep. About $85 million in taxpayer dollars are saved for every one percent increase in mail response.
- The Census Bureau must get a census form to – and a completed form back from – every residence in the United States. That’s more than 130 million addresses. This is why the census is the largest domestic mobilization our nation undertakes.
What the 2010 Census DOES NOT Ask
- Field representatives will never ask you for your social security number, bank account number, or credit card number. Census workers also never solicit for donations and will never contact you by e-mail.
The Census is Safe
- The 2010 Census will ask for name, gender, age, race, ethnicity, relationship, and whether you own or rent your home – just 10 simple questions that will take about 10 minutes to answer.
- Your answers are protected by law and are not shared with anyone.
- The Census Bureau safeguards all census responses to the highest security standards available.
*Note this information was drafted by the U.S. Census Bureau
Posted Thursday, October 22, 2009
Anyone who has read our press releases knows just about every one of them tells consumers to never wire money for any type of purchase. If you run into problems, there is almost no way to get your money back which is why scam artists choose it as the method of choice for duping people. Well the FTC yesterday sent a message to these money wiring companies by reaching a settlement with MoneyGram International Inc. on charges the company knew its system was being used to defraud consumers, but did little or nothing about it. The bill for the settlement runs to the tune of $18 million and MoneyGram will now have to implement anti-fraud and agent monitoring programs to attempt to fix the problem.
Just to throw a few numbers out, the FTC says it has received over 20,600 fraud complaints about MoneyGram from 2004 to 2008 which cost consumers more than $44 million just in cross-border transfers between the U.S. and Canada. The good news for consumers, besides the FTC stepping in to try and alleviate wire fraud, is that the $18 million settlement fee will be used to redress those who were scammed. If you are one of the unfortunate people who were taken by a MoneyGram utilized scam, you can call the FTC to inquire about getting into the redress process at 202-326-3755.
Posted Friday, October 16, 2009
We've seen lottery scams and immitation business scams before, but since I've been working here at this BBB, I've never seen a scam artist try to impersonate the great State of Texas. But alas, one has popped up in the form of a cash prize winning from the "State of Texas Commissioners of Registration" and the amount is staggering (as in over $1 million). Of course there's no such thing as the State of Texas Commissioners of Registration and of course the consumer hasn't won this large cash prize. They will however lose roughly $20 if they send in the prize report claim form in an envelope to try and claim their "money."
We have figured out the company mis-representing the great State of Texas is actually a company based out of Las Vegas and we have informed the Vegas BBB of what we have found. As a consumer, just make sure you know that you CANNOT win money from a lottery, a drawing or a contest unless you have actually entered. There is no entity that will randomly pick a person from a random city and give them money for no reason although that would be nice. So take your chances with scratch-offs and radio station remote drawings, but these unsolicited mailings are something to avoid.
Posted Wednesday, October 14, 2009
It's been a much colder last few days in and around the central, coastal and southwest Texas region. There are many homes that have new roofs as a result of the spring hail and that makes it especially important, with the winter months approaching, that you inspect your chimney. Why you ask? Because when a new roof is installed on a home, it is up to the repair staff to re-attach the heater/furnace flues and failing to do so can put you at risk. The flue is the main way smoke, hot gasses and other nasty byproducts of using your fireplace exit your home without harming you and your family. A single home may have several flues depending on how many fireplaces or stoves you have so even 1 becomming detached can be a problem.
For one thing, carbon monoxide can begin to enter your home as result and this gas is very toxic. Detached flues can also create insufficient drafts which lead to water condensation building up that cracks the masonry work in your chimney. The surefire bet to avoid all this is to have a certified HVAC person come to your home and inspect your chimney and give it a good cleaning. You need to do this soon though as your neighbors will no doubt start making calls soon which will back you up on the waiting list. Just make sure to check whatever company you choose out with your BBB first!
Posted Thursday, October 08, 2009
From the "Word of Mouth" department, we're starting to hear from the Houston BBB about a call-forwarding scam from consumers who say they received a collect call from the Harris County Jail. I know this in Houston, but it's close enough to you all that I feel you should be aware. The consumer is asked to push 9 or 1 another number to accept the collect call. Some have accepted the call for various reasons. In one instance, a women who owns a trucking business thought it might be one of her employees.
When they accept the call, a fake officer, who goes by a random name and sometimes gives a badge number, says he is calling on behalf of a random inmate. When the victim says they do not know the person on whose behalf the call was placed, they say they can call a number to remove the collect charges. Various numbers have been given to call to remove the charges.
So far we have found info on this being a call forwarding scam mainly because the victims cannot use their phones for a day or two. Some can call out, but cannot receive calls. Either way, unless you know someone has been placed in jail, do not accept a collect call from a detention facility. Most jails will give a new inmate the opportunity to make one free call so a red flag should raise in your head if the call to you is a collect call.
Posted Tuesday, October 06, 2009
If you're behind on payments, you can expect a collections agency to call asking for the timetable for getting money to them. But what happens if you get a call and you're sure you don't owe anything? That's the scenario we received today as some sneaky scam artist tried to portray themselves as an advertising company seeking collections against a business. The tricky part was the real advertising company did legitimately have a deal with the business, however, the business did not owe any outstanding money. The letter we received had very threatening language in it claiming to turn the business in to 3 different collections agencies, the police department and BBB if they didn't receive the payment in 1 week.
The business did the right thing by letting us know, but we are obviously concerned with the advertising company having their identity taken advantage of. This hurts their image as well as sets them up for angry consumers to call them and potentially lose business. The important thing to remember with people claiming you owe money is to have them send you WRITTEN proof of your outstanding debts and to double check the status of you account on your own through a customer service phone number which should be provided to you. If you see a scam similar to this, feel free to send it our way at firstname.lastname@example.org and as always, stay safe out there!
Posted Thursday, October 01, 2009
We're only 8 days away from October 10th which is our next big Shred Day event happening in Round Rock, San Antonio and Corpus Christi. In the fun spirit with which we're holding this community service event, I figured an acrostic was in order...The image you see links directly to our Facebook page where I suggest you turn to for Shred Day info as well as announcements most other people don't get. Be our fan and be updated on what's happening in your area...
Start gathering your old sensitive documents so you'll be prepared in advance
Have them out of binders, but it's fine to leave the staples in
Recycling is a really cool idea which is why all our shred trucks will recycle 100% of what you bring
Everyone is invited and remember it's FREE
Don't worry about being pressed for time...The event is from 9am to 1pm so stop by while you're out doing errands
Do you know that 10 million people had their identity stolen last year? This event will help keep you out of that stat
April was a very successful Shred Day (40,000 pounds shredded), but we think we can do better this time around
You can get the satisfaction of knowing you cleared out the garage and attic of those dusty boxes
For even more information on Shred Day, visit austin.bbb.org/shred