CONSUMER FIRST ALERT: What to know about the 2020 census

(MGN Image)
(MGN Image)(KWQC)
Published: Mar. 13, 2020 at 6:47 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

Official mail from the Census Bureau is starting to reach local mailboxes.

As that nationwide headcount ramps up, we're getting new information about census scams and how vulnerable people might be to them.

The census only happens every 10 years, and scammers are taking advantage of this massive effort to try to trick people.

Fraud experts have serious concerns about people not understanding how the census works and falling for these scams.

Action 2 News asked AARP Fraud Prevention Director Kathy Stokes about its recent fraud survey and the shocking answers people gave about the census.

"More than half failed the quiz, unfortunately, and a lot of them had to do with the census. We asked if the census would ask for your Social Security number as part of filling out the census. People just aren't aware that they won't. They thought they would get an email to fill out a questionnaire online, and that's not going to happen, either," Stokes said.

Consumer experts anticipate scam attempts will increase significantly with scammers posting as census workers on the phone, sending fake surveys setting up fake websites, and even sending mailers.

"I am doing some work directly with the Census Bureau, and I've learned of some of the scams that are already out there. One of them is a postcard with what's called a QR code on it, and you're supposed to scan it and get to a web page. Well, the Census Bureau doesn't do that, and if you scan it, it loads malware onto your device," Stokes warned.

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection says you should get your 2020 census by April 1. You can respond online at

, by phone at 1-844-330-2020 (for English), or by mail.

to see a sample U.S. Census Bureau letter.

The legitimate census will ask details like your phone number, how many people are in your home, and whether you own or rent your home.

It will never ask for your Social Security number, bank account, credit card number, or donations. It will not ask about citizenship status.

If someone comes to your door saying they're getting additional information for the census, ask to see their ID badge identifying them as a Census Bureau worker.