The Merced County Sheriff's Department is warning local residents to beware of identity theft and security risks during the 2010 Census being conducted this month.
The Census Bureau will employ temporary workers to collect data from homes throughout the country. The workers will be issued identification cards by the bureau.
The Census is conducted by the federal government each decade to obtain an accurate count of the U.S. population. Census questionnaires will be delivered by hand or mailed to Merced County residents in February.
The sheriff's department said in a press release that the count is an opportunity for identity thieves and crooks to take advantage of unsuspecting victims. Residents should not give out their Social Security numbers, credit card numbers or banking information.
"Remember, no matter what they ask, you really only need to tell them how many people live at your address," the sheriff's department said.
The press release also warned Merced County residents to be wary of e-mails claiming to be from the Census Bureau. If you feel someone is falsely representing the Census Bureau, call your local law enforcement agency.