BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Invitations to respond to the 2020 Census will arrive in mailboxes starting this week and officials are warning people that scammers are already trying to take advantage of the process.
The census is a government-mandated survey designed to count every person in every household in the country in order to allocate federal funds. Officials say every response matters.
“It’s very important for our communities locally to get the resources for schools, libraries, roads, also for our representation in Congress,” said Thomas Coogan, the assistant regional census manager for Maryland.
Starting March 12, official census notifications will be mailed out with instructions on how to answer the questions.
For the first time this year, people will have the option of completing the questionnaire either online, by mail or over the phone.
That also means scammers can use different tactics to try to cash in.
“The census provides a wonderful opportunity for people who try to steal your money or steal your identity,” Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh said.
Officials say to avoid giving out personal or financial information and avoid phishing emails that try to direct people to a census website. Census workers will not call or email people and will only make face-to-face visits for people who don’t respond to the letters that are mailed out.
“They will not ask you for your social security number, they will not ask for money or donations of any kind, they won’t ask on behalf of any political party, they won’t ask for your bank account number, your personal schedule. when you leave for work,” Frosh said.
If someone visits your home claiming to be a census worker, make sure to verify their identity, officials said.
If you fall victim to one of the scams, you can call police, the Census Bureau or the AARP hotline.