April 1 is Census Day, when the 2020 U.S. census kicks into high gear. It also opens a season when census fraudsters will be trying to steal your identity, money or possessions.
As invitations go out via mail to complete the census form, which help determine which states get federal resources and might gain or lose congressional seats, and census workers follow up in person with households that do not respond, watch out for scammers. They may contact you by phone, mail, home visit, or online, directing you to phony websites.
Here are seven tips to avoiding census scams:
- The Census Bureau will not send you an email with a link to complete the questionnaire online. If you get such an email, it's a scam.
- The Census Bureau will never ask you for sensitive information, like your full Social Security number, bank account number, or your mother’s maiden name.
- The Census Bureau will never ask for money or donations, ask when you leave or return from work, ask you to support a political party, or threaten jail time for refusing to cooperate.
- When you receive a mailing from the U.S. Census Bureau about how you complete your questionnaire, look for the official return address of Jeffersonville, Indiana. Any other address is a scam.
- If a person claiming to be an official census taker comes to your door, verify that he or she is legitimate by check the person's Census Bureau photo ID badge (with a Department of Commerce watermark and an expiration date.)
- Check the web address of any supposed census website. Make sure the address has census.gov in the address and check for the padlock symbol or https:// before the web address. Do not reply, click links or open email attachments in email that purports to be from the Census Bureau.
- Don't trust caller ID. Scammers often use spoofing tools to make it appear that they are calling from a real Census Bureau number. Call the National Processing Center at 800-523-3205, 800-642-0469, or 800-877-8339 (TDD/TTY) to verify that a phone survey is legitimate.
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