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Scammers use upcoming census to steal information, money

2020 Census / Source: MGN
2020 Census / Source: MGN
Published: Oct. 7, 2019 at 8:28 PM CDT
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Ahead of the official census starting next March, census workers are out, working to verify addresses and update maps.

Next year's census survey will ask for information related to your household, including some demographic information like age and race, as well as how many people live in your home.

The census survey will not ask you to hand over sensitive information like your social security number. But scammers pretending to be census workers will ask for this information.

To protect scammers from tricking you into surrendering information that could give them access to your money, you need to know the difference between the actual census and a scam designed to appear legitimate and trick as many people as possible into believing it's the real thing.

"Really, knowledge is going to be your best line of defense when it comes to knowing whether or not you're dealing with a scammer or if you're dealing with a legitimate census field agent," says Denise Groene with the Better Business Bureau.

Few people actually come into contact with a census worker. This is because you can expect the census for next March to come to you in the mail. It will invite you to fill out the survey on a secured website.

A scammer could contact you in multiple ways: by phone, email, mail, or by visiting your home. The Better Business Bureau says scammers will ask personal questions, demanding your social security number, credit card and bank information.

"We have seen in the past, a history of scammers trying to impersonate census workers, whether that be someone showing up to your doorstep,or though phishing attempts," Groene says.

Here's how you can verify the survey you receive came from the U.S. Census: The return address will always be from Jeffersonville, Indiana.

Also, remember that employees with the census will show up at your door on rare occasions. If a census worker does show up at your home, the Better Business Bureau advises asking to see an ID badge. The U.S. Census will begin sending out invitations in March, so if you're contacted to fill out a survey before than, that's another red flag.

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