Census scam warning issued to Leeds households as legal deadline looms

Households in Leeds are being warned following reports that scammers are calling people to claim they have filled in their Census forms incorrectly and 'fine' them.

Friday, 19th March 2021, 8:32 am
Updated Friday, 19th March 2021, 8:37 am

The Census is conducted every decade to count the number of people in England and Wales, along with other details.

Households are legally required to fill out the form by March 21, and those who do not fill it out or give false information can be fined up to £1,000.

But now fraudsters are using the nationwide survey and potential fine for their own benefit.

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Census scam: Don't get a £1,000 fine - or get hoodwinked by someone claiming to work for the Office of National Statistics
Census scam: Don't get a £1,000 fine - or get hoodwinked by someone claiming to work for the Office of National Statistics

Trading standards has issued a warning over a census from scam where fraudsters are trying to trick members of the public into giving out personal information by pretending to be from a local council. Reports have already been collated in several other areas including Chesterfield and Hampshire.

A spokesman for Action Fraud said: "A warning has been issued after receiving reports from victims who claim to have been contacted by someone purporting to be from the authority and acting on behalf of the Office of National Statistics.

"The caller suggested that the individual’s Census form was completed incorrectly and they had a fine to pay. The caller asked for basic identification details which they said was to confirm the Census record and the individual’s bank details so they could process the fine.

"The Office of National Statistics are aware of similar scams in other parts of the country where money has been taken from an individual’s bank account. The Office of National Statistics have warned that they would never ask for this type of personal information and advised that Hampshire County Council is not acting as an agent for them.

"Always check a cold caller’s identity with the genuine organisation before talking with them."

How does the census work and what do I need to know to avoid a fine?

The census is a national survey of the country's population which has been conducted every 10 years for more than a century. The theory is that the survey helps track what is happening to the country's broad population and allows government to understand more about the nation's makeup.

It is a legal requirement to submit the questionnaire – failing to do so, or supplying false information, could mean receiving a fine of up to £1,000.

The survey must be completed on Sunday, March 21. You can fill it out earlier, but only if you confirm that your circumstances will not change.