Not long ago, I mentioned here that although more young people (age 20 to 29) are victims of fraud, older people (50 and older) lose larger amounts of money to fraud, according to an AARP survey.
Now, it seems, the upcoming U.S. Census will be a big opportunity for fraudsters.
The survey, titled The Impostors: Stealing Money, Damaging Lives, focused in part on government imposters who pretend to be from the Census Bureau, Social Security Administration, Internal Revenue Service or other agency types of scams.
According to the AARP survey, 77 percent of U.S. adults are not familiar with Census scams which, of course, would make them more vulnerable to one. The upcoming Census – as with any public event – is expected to “substantially” raise the number of scams.
First, here is the official Census schedule – what you can expect and when:
March 12 – 20
Households begin received a snailmail notification from the Census Bureau with instructions on how to respond to the 2020 Census via snailmail, telephone or online.
March 30 – April 1
During these three days, the Census Bureau will count homeless people.
This is Census Day, observed nationwide, by which date every home in the U.S. will have received their Census form. When you respond, tell the Census Bureau where you live on April 1.
The Month of April
Census takers will begin visiting college students who live on campus, people living in senior centers, and others who live among large groups of people.
May – July
Census takers will visit homes that haven't responded to the 2020 Census to help make sure everyone is counted.
Now take a look at this short video on five ways to avoid Census scams:
Here are some warning signs that someone is a scammer:
• You get an unsolicited email purporting to be from the Census Bureau. For household surveys and the decennial Census, the agency almost always makes contact by snailmail.
• A supposed census agent asks you for money or financial data, such as the number of and amount in your bank account.
• A supposed census taker threatens you with arrest. Taking part in the Census is required by law, and you can be fined for not doing so, but you can’t be imprisoned.
Here are other important do's and don'ts.
DO check the URL of any supposed Census website. Make sure it has a census.gov domain and is encrypted — look for https:// or a lock symbol in the browser window.
DO NOT give your Social Security number, mother’s maiden name, or bank or credit card numbers to someone claiming to be from the Census Bureau. Genuine Census representatives will not ask for this information.
DO NOT reply, click links or open attachments in a suspicious census email. Forward the message to firstname.lastname@example.org.
DO NOT trust caller ID — scammers can use “spoofing” tools to make it appear they’re calling from a real Census Bureau number. Call the National Processing Center at 800-523-3205, 800-642-0469 or 800-877-8339 (TDD/TTY) to verify that a phone survey is legitimate.
If you keep all this mind you should be safe from scams and scammers. Here are links to further information:
The U.S. Census 2020 Website
AARP Census Scams
Key Findings from the AARP Survey
Have you or someone you know been scammed? If so, what did you learn from the experience?