Don’t be fooled by Census scammers, the Better Business Bureau warns

April 1, 2020, is National Census Day, and the Better Business Bureau is warning people to be alert to census scammers.

The U.S. census happens once a decade.

“This year, census takers will be going door to door to retrieve information and BBB is anticipating that scammers may be out in full force, in an attempt to take advantage of those responding to the census,” the agency says in a news release.

The BBB says the Census Bureau is likely to have its fair share of imposters, so they’re reminding people that there are only three ways to respond to to census: by phone, mail or online.

“The Census Bureau may request information through almost all communication outlets, including phone, email, mail, fax and in-person,” the BBB says. “And yes, some if the information they ask for can get pretty personal.”

However, the Census Bureau will never ask for your full Social Security number, money, donations, anything on behalf of a political party, your full bank or credit account numbers or your mother’s maiden name.

The BBB has the following tips so you can avoid being scammed.

  • Never give out your social security number. Census takers will never ask for your social security number, bank account number, credit card number, money or donations.
  • Census takers will never contact you on behalf of a political party. If someone calls on behalf of a political party that claims to be from the census, hang up.
  • Make sure you respond to the census through Census.gov ,the official website they provide. Your regional Census Bureau may also be able to help.
  • If something sounds suspicious, confirm it by calling the government agency directly or checking the government agency’s website. Don’t click on any links in an unexpected email – type the official URL into your browser or do a web search to find the right website. Call a trusted phone number other than one provided by the caller to verify the caller’s identity.
  • Don’t click, download, or open anything that comes from an anonymous sender. This is likely an attempt to gain access to your personal information or install malware on your computer.
  • Be cautious of generic emails. Scammers try to cast a wide net by including little or no specific information in their fake emails. Always be wary of unsolicited messages that don’t contain your name, last digits of your account number or other personalizing information. Do not click on any links. See our tips on avoiding phishing email scams .
  • Check BBB ScamTracker for local reports of imposters in your area.

And if a census taker comes to your door, there are several things you can do to verify their identity, according to the BBB.

  • Ask to see their ID Badge. Census takers must present a field badge that includes a photograph of themselves, a Department of Commerce watermark and an expiration date.
  • Census workers will be carrying a Census Bureau laptop or cellphone, as well as a bag with a Census Bureau logo.
  • If you still have questions, call 800-923-8282 to speak with a local Census Bureau representative. If it is determined that the visitor who came to your door does not work for the Census Bureau, contact your local police department.

The official website of the Census Bureau is census.gov and the homepage for the 2020 Census is 2020census.gov.

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

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