Over the past couple of days, I've seen posts warning us not to give any information over the phone to people who call us saying they are from the Census Bureau and they need information about vacant houses. And it struck a chord with me, as an urban agent with clients whose alarm systems are sometimes as expensive as my car.
And then today, I got one of those calls.
The caller was a woman who did not sound like someone who wanted to get information so she could rob one of my listings. And she sounded genuinely frustrated that she could not get any information on Foxhall Village, the neighborhood she was assigned. Oh, and did I mention that it's a neighborhood where I've never ever had a single listing?
I explained to her nicely that there were alerts going around the city - and the country - warning Realtors® about bad guy scammers calling for information about listings that might (or might not) be vacant. I told her that she would have to try to locate the owners of the properties in order to get information about who is living there, and that I seriously doubted that she'd be able to pry anything out of a real estate agent.
But she sounded really nice. And there's something about a Federal employee who is really trying hard to do a good job. Still, I was firm.
Then I mentioned that I was curious about how she got my name, as I have no listings in the neighborhood she was calling about. Then we got cut off as I drove into Rock Creek Park.
When I got home, there was a message in my voice mail.
"I found you on the Internet," she explained.
And sure enough. A post I wrote a year ago showed up somewhere on Page 2 of Google. Not page 1, but considering that I wrote one post over a year ago, I was pretty impressed.
So now I felt a little sorry for her, and I'm assuming that she is not a burglar casing houses to steal refrigerators out of.
Still, my advice to all of you dedicated census workers is to get the owner's names from the public record and track them down.
I'm so sorry!