By: Phillip Heilman
Beginning Thursday and continuing through March 20th, households around the country will receive an invitation to respond to the 2020 Census either by mail, phone or online.
Information gathered from the census is used to determine how important resources such as federal funding for education, housing and community development are allocated. It also enables decision-makers to monitor how populations have changed since the census was last taken in 2010. (Think of how much different your life has become in the last 10 years.)
Just as you should take the necessary precautions with your personal information when banking or making an online purchase, it is important to protect yourself from potential scams or fraudulent activity while responding to the census.
Census takers will visit homes later this spring for quality assurance, but they will never ask for your full Social Security number, money or donations, anything on behalf of a political party or your full bank or credit card account numbers. They also will not ask for information such as your mother’s maiden name or the name of your first pet.
If someone visits your home to collect a response, you can verify their identity by requesting to see a valid ID badge, which will include a current photograph, a U.S. Department of Commerce watermark and an expiration date. If you have additional concerns or suspect fraud of any kind, call (800) 923-8282 to speak with a local Census Bureau representative or contact your local police department.
The Census Bureau will not send unsolicited emails requesting your participation in the 2020 Census. If you get a suspicious email, do not reply, do not click on any links and do not open any attachments. Forward the email or website URL to the Census Bureau at firstname.lastname@example.org and delete the message. The Census Bureau will investigate.
If you receive a call to complete the census, you can verify the person on the line is a Census Bureau employee by calling (800) 923-8282. Remember, the Census Bureau will never ask for information such as your full Social Security number, money or donations or full bank or credit card account numbers.
For more information, visit coj.net/2020Census. It’s important you are fairly represented, and your voice is heard, but make sure to take the necessary steps to do so in a safe and secure way.