You’ve probably received a letter for the 2020 Census, but scammers are using the census as a way to try and rip you off.
You have to be on your game because this is a scam that can come in any form — through mail, by phone, or right at your front door.
“Now it’s time to do the Census, and so we are starting to see Census claims,” said Steve McFarland, President of the Los Angeles Better Business Bureau.
McFarland says that his office is getting reports that scammers, often bilingual, posing as Census workers are going door-to-door looking for opportunity.
“They want your personal information and they want money. That’s what they want,” McFarland said.
He notes that the imposters may present a fake badge, so ask to see it. A real badge issued from the U.S. Department of Commerce will have a recent photograph of the employee, a watermark, and an expiration date.
“Another way we’re seeing the scams on an increasing level here at BBB is via phone,” said McFarland.
He adds that it’s the same game — callers probe for personal bank account, credit card, or even medicare account information. McFarland says real Census workers only ask very basic questions.
“You’re going to be asked standard open questions about how many people live in your residence in that particular area, what their relationship is to you, names, and possibly some birthdates.”
Census workers will also never ask you for your social security number, payment of any kind because participation in the Census is free, or any questions about political affiliation. So if you get an unsolicited email, check the source.
“If it’s an email, all the emails come from Census.org,” said McFarland. “You should see ‘Census.org’ at the end of each of the emails.”
Scams aside, participation in the Census is important because the government uses the data in the allocation of funds, so it can identify communities with the most need.
Any concerns or doubts you have about Census inquiries you can verify by going to their official website, 2020Census.gov.
Source: NBC Los Angeles