Census Scams

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As 2019 draws to a close, a new decade will be here before we know it. However, as we usher in a new era, there is business to be taken care of; namely, the census. The deadline to take part in the national event is April 1, so you’re likely to hear a lot from the United States Census Bureau until then. Although the Census Bureau doesn’t limit its activity to the time around the 10-year mark (more than 130 surveys are conducted each year), this is the time consumers and scammers alike begin to pay more attention. Scammers may use census surveys as an opportunity to ask for your personal information. BBB serving the Heart of Texas is here to help you know if you’re being contacted by a legitimate U.S. Census Bureau representative.

  • Verify their identity. If someone knocks on your door or approaches you in person claiming to be from the Census Bureau, ask to see a valid U.S. Census Bureau ID badge. There is also information a real Bureau agent or survey will never ask for, such as your Social Security number, banking information or financial data (such as how much money you have in your bank account). If you are asked questions like these, you are probably not participating in a legitimate survey.
  • Check the return address. A quick way to see if correspondence from the Census Bureau is real is to check the return address. The Census Bureau website says the return address will always be from Jeffersonville, Indiana. If it’s from any other location, it is not legitimate. If it does say Jeffersonville, you should still be cautious and look for other red flags.
  • Stay calm. Participating in the census is required by law, and you can receive a fine if you don’t. You will, however, never be imprisoned for not partaking in the census. If someone attempts to threaten you with arrest for not filling out a census survey, remain calm and know these are empty threats.
  • Call the Census Bureau. If you are still unsure, you can contact your regional Census Bureau office for help. Someone there can verify the legitimacy of a survey or agent. This information can be found at census.gov/about/regions.

To learn more, visit us at bbb.org, or visit the Census Bureau at census.gov.