We’ve received a few complaints from members who complained about the aggressive tactics used by Statistics Canada when collecting information for surveys. I myself recently came back from a vacation to find a message from a person claiming to be a Statistics Canada investigator who wanted to make arrangements to meet me in person and who said they had already been by my house and left me an informational notification letter about the study in which I was to participate. By all accounts, scammers and fraudsters are proliferating in this recessionary environment and now more than every – it’s time to exercise caution. The Statistics Canada telephone call caught me off guard, particularly since it came from an individual as opposed to an official telephone number and so I phoned their office to confirm that I was indeed selected to be part of a study and I also send off some questions about the way they collect data, the results of which I will share below. If you think I am overly cautious I beg differ, posing as a company or government official is a common scammer tactic.
What to do?
Statistics Canada informed us that all interviewers carry a photo identification card issued by Statistics Canada when doing face-to-face interviews. Upon request, they will present it to respondents to show that they are Statistics Canada employees. I, for one, find this to be cold comfort. I don’t want to wait until I’ve invited someone into my home to ask them to produce identification. If you have not received notification that your house is going to be inspected/a survey is going to be conducted, you have the right to tell the person to return once you’ve had to chance to verify that they are on official business. It is what I did in the case of the Statistics Canada interviewer and I may have inconvenienced someone but I also placed my safety first, so should everyone.
In the case of telephone interviews, persons can confirm the identity of an interviewer and/or that Statistics Canada is currently conducting a specific survey by phoning one of the following toll-free numbers:
1 800 263-1136 – Toll-free general enquiries line 1 800 363-7629 – National TTY line (teletype machine)
Persons can also confirm that a survey is a legitimate Statistics Canada survey by going to the Statistics Canada website and looking up the name of the survey in the list of current surveys under Information for Survey Participants. (www.statcan.gc.ca)
The officials at Statistics Canada also added that If a person has any suspicions at all, the best way to confirm the identity of an interviewer and the legitimacy of survey is by using the methods listed above. In its surveys, Statistics Canada does not ask for sensitive personal information such as Social Insurance Numbers, bank account numbers or credit card numbers. Therefore individuals should be cautious of anyone asking for this type of information.
Special Constable Jacqueline Brennan who is an Elder Services Coordinator with the Halton Regional Police provided us with the following pamphlets on Frauds and Scams, Privacy Protection, Seniors Crime Prevention and Identify Theft. They are full of useful tips and information. Although many of these tips might seem like common sense, I find it useful to make a checklist of such safeguards to ensure I remember to follow them.