U.S. Census : Avoid scammers posing as census worker

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FILE – This Sunday, April 5, 2020, photo shows an envelope containing a 2020 census letter mailed to a U.S. resident in Detroit. The U.S. Census Bureau has spent much of the past year defending itself against allegations that its duties have been overtaken by politics. With a failed attempt by the Trump administration to add a citizenship question, the hiring of three political appointees with limited experience to top positions, a sped-up schedule and a directive from President Donald Trump to exclude undocumented residents from the process of redrawing congressional districts, the 2020 census has descended into a high-stakes partisan battle. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya, File)

The census workers are on the streets, and may be coming to your home.

After a 4 month pandemic delay, U.S. Census takers are now going door to door, canvassing neighborhoods and visiting homes that have not responded to their mailings.

But these days, where consumers are targeted by so many scams, it is understandable that many people are reluctant to talk.

Amy Cheney contacted us earlier this summer after she received a suspicious census call, and was reluctant to answer their questions.

“It showed up as unknown call, an unknown phone number,” she said.

Michael Cook, communications officer at the U.S. Census Bureau, told us how to confirm you are not dealing with an impostor.

He says a real census taker will show you their government photo ID right away.

“The key here is that if someone comes to your home, they will present a census ID, so you can rest assured it is the census,” Cook said. They should also carry a bag or folder with the US Census Bureau logo on it.

You should also know that when a census worker comes to your door, there are some questions they are going to ask you. But there are also some questions they will never ask you if they are legitimate.

“The Census Bureau will never ask your Social Security Number when it comes to the census,” Cook said. “We will also never ask your bank account number.”

Real census worker questions:

  • Your name, and names of other people in your home
  • Your age (birthdate)
  • Your race
  • How many children you have at home
  • Your home or cell phone number, but only for follow up questions, if needed

A more detailed American Community Survey, that targets fewer than 2% of taxpayers each year, will ask questions about your employment and income. But door-to-door workers will not ask those questions.

Amy Cheney was right to be suspicious, because the caller ID should have said US Census, not “unknown number.”

If you still have questions? You’ll find lots of information at the census website, www.2020census.gov.

That way you stay safe, and you don’t waste your money.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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