Live in Tarn-et-Garonne? Watch out for the fake census scam

Fraudsters are posing as census officials and entering homes to steal money. Use these tips to spot the scam and stay safe 

1 April 2021
Person outside holding a file filled with papers. Live in Tarn-et-Garonne? Watch out for the fake census scam

The government website says officers do not have to enter your home to carry out the census Pic: Ono Kosuki / Pexels

By Joanna York

Fake census officers have been entering homes in areas in south-west France and attempting to steal money, warn local gendarmes. 

This is the latest in a line of scams in which criminals posing as police officers, postmen and now census officers visit people’s homes and ask to be let inside. 

In a Facebook post the gendarmerie in Tarn-et-Garonne department in Occitanie said: “They work in pairs, with one keeping your attention while the other discreetly looks in drawers to find money.”

It did not say how many people had fallen victim to the scam or specific areas scammers were operating in.

How to stay safe from scammers 

The gendarmerie suggested the following measures to protect against the scammers: 

  • Do not let unknown people into your home. Keep the chain on if you open the door, or use the peephole to see who is outside
  • Ask people at your door for a professional identification card or formal letter explaining what their purpose is
  • Call the organisation that the visitor says they are from to check that it has sent someone to your home
  • If you are suspicious or unsure, call 17 to contact the police or gendarmerie

What happens during a real census call

The official government website for the census says that local officers are hired to carry out the census and may visit people’s homes, but officers do not necessarily need to come inside.

They will either deliver a notice giving login details to complete the census online, or they will deliver census forms to be completed by hand. 

If requested, officers can go through the questionnaire and help people answer the questions, but this is not a requirement. 

Census forms also do not have to be completed immediately.

Officers can organise a time to come back and collect paper census forms, or you can send forms directly to the mairie or your local Insee office.

What to do if you have been scammed

The national police force gave a similar warning against scammers in August 2020. 

It advised not letting people into your home without an appointment or seeing their professional identification, and always keeping an eye on people while they are inside.

 

If you have been the victim of a scam of this kind, police advise not touching anything after the scammers have left your home so that the police can try to take fingerprints and identify the criminals.

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