Every 10 years, the United States Census Bureau conducts a census. Every person in the U.S. needs to be counted, according to Linda Inmon at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.
“Unfortunately, scammers are also looking for your information – not to make it better for communities, but for themselves,” said Inmon, UAPB Extension associate-family and consumer sciences.
Census results determine how many seats each state gets in the House of Representatives as well as the amount of funding communities will receive for public schools, fire and police departments, social service organization, highway departments and more.
“It is important to know how to avoid scams associated with the 2020 Census,” she said.
Scammers will use websites that look like the Census Bureau website. A closer look at those websites will reveal that it is not the official website for the Census Bureau, Inmon said.
The official website uses “.gov” at the end of their web address. And to ensure that it is secure, “https” will be at the beginning of it. Typing https://2020Census.gov opens the official website for participating in the census.
Scammers gather information through unsolicited emails and phone calls.
“The Census Bureau does not send out emails requesting your participation in the census,” Inmon said. “The only way you receive an email from the Census Bureau is if you request it.”
Be aware of phone calls, she said. Scammers use tools to make it appear as if they are calling from a Census Bureau phone number. Verify the phone survey by calling the National Processing Center at 800-523-3205, 800-642-0469 or 800-877-8339 (TDD/TTY) to make sure it is legitimate.
“The person visiting your home to collect data for the 2020 Census should have a legal ID badge that includes a photograph, a U.S. Department of Commerce watermark and an expiration date,” Inmon said.
If people have additional questions about the identity of a Census worker, call 844-330-2020 to speak with someone at the Census Bureau.
When receiving mail from the Census Bureau and suspect fraudulent activity, check the return address, she said. The return address should read, “U.S. Census Bureau” or “U.S. Department of Commerce” in Jeffersonville, Indiana. If a person is unsure of its authenticity, they should contact the regional office at 800-865-6384 for Arkansas.
“Remember, the Census Bureau will never ask for your full social security number, money or donations, your political affiliation, bank account or credit card information, nor your mother’s maiden name,” Inmon said.
The University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff offers all of its Extension and Research programs and services without discrimination.