Financial Resource Center

Fraud


Watch Out for Census Scams

by Laura Varela / January 23rd, 2020


The 2020 census officially begins in January, starting with Alaska. This year will be the first time U.S. households will be able to respond online, by phone, or by completing and mailing paper forms. By April 1, 2020, you will receive an invitation to participate in the census and you will be asked 7 questions:

  1. How many people are living or staying at your home on April 1, 2020.
  2. Whether the home is owned or rented.
  3. About the sex of each person in your home.
  4. About the age of each person in your home.
  5. About the race of each person in your home.
  6. About whether a person in your home is of Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin.
  7. About the relationship of each person in your home.

From the end of April to July, legitimate census workers will go door-to-door to capture information from college students who live on campus, people living in senior centers or other group housing, and households that fail to respond to the invitation. Crooks know this and will attempt to exploit this once-every-10-years event by getting you to let down your guard and divulge personal information to them—information that could lead to identity theft.

Take the census seriously and respond to it, but if a census taker comes to your home, be aware of these signs that indicate this visitor is a fraudster:

  • They ask for your Social Security number. This is not a legitimate census question.
  • They ask for your credit union or bank account number. The Census Bureau will never ask you for your account number, PIN, passwords, or similar access information for credit cards or financial accounts.
  • They ask for donations to a local charity. Legitimate census takers don't collect money for charities or political parties. They also will not contact you on behalf of a political party.
  • They don’t carry official badges.  Legitimate census takers always carry official badges with their photograph, a U.S. Department of Commerce watermark, and an expiration date. If their ID looks suspicious, call 800-923-8282 to contact a local Census Bureau representative and verify the census taker’s identity.

If you think you've been a victim of a census scam, contact your regional Census Bureau office immediately. The Census Bureau will tell you if the visitor works for them. If they are not legitimate census takers, contact your local police department.

You can learn more about the census by visiting the 2020 U.S. Census website.

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