The District of Columbia Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking (DISB) warns consumers to be on the alert for 2020 Census scams.
By April 1, 2020, every residence in the United States will receive an invitation by mail to take part in the 2020 Census; participation is required by law. Once the invitation arrives, respond for your home in one of three ways: online, by phone or by mail.
Scammers use this opportunity to commit fraud, and may do so by using emails, home visits, and/or postal mail and phone conversations. While no such scams have yet been reported in the District, residents should be aware of the techniques that are used:
• Emails. Beware that the Census Bureau does not send unsolicited emails requesting participation in the 2020 Census. If you receive such an email, do not open attachments or click on links—doing so may download and install harmful software on your computer. Instead, forward the email or website address to the Census Bureau at [email protected] and then delete the message. The Census Bureau will investigate and notify you of its findings.
• Home visits. Some scam artists impersonate Census Bureau employees to collect your personal information and use it to commit fraud or steal your identity. If someone visits your home to collect a response for the 2020 Census, ask to see the individual’s U.S. Census Bureau ID badge to verify his or her identity. A Census Bureau badge has a photograph of the field agent, a Department of Commerce watermark and an expiration date. If you are still unsure, call 800-923-8282 to speak with a local Census Bureau representative. If it is determined that the visitor does not work for the Census Bureau, contact the Metropolitan Police Department Financial Crimes and Fraud Unit at 202-727-4159.
• Postal mail and phone. Scammers also may contact you by mail with a letter that appears legitimate, or by phone. Call the Census Bureau’s Regional Office at 800-262-4236 to verify the authenticity of the letter or the identity of the person calling. Do not trust the caller ID. Scammers use a technique known as caller ID spoofing to trick victims into believing that the calls are legitimate.
Also, be aware that the Census Bureau will never ask for your Social Security number, money or donations, your bank account or credit card account numbers or your mother’s maiden name.
Report any suspected 2020 Census scams to:
• the U.S. Department of Commerce, Office of Inspector General, at 800-424-5197;
• the Federal Trade Commission at 877-382-4357; and
• the Metropolitan Police Department Financial Crimes and Fraud Unit at 202-727-4159.
You also may contact the Enforcement and Consumer Protection Division of the District of Columbia Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking at 202-727-8000.