How to avoid getting scammed ahead of the 2020 U.S. Census

PADUCAH — You’ve probably had a United States census worker call your phone or knock on your door. Leading up to the 2020 census, some calls and visits might not be legitimate.

Timeline of when you can expect documents to be mailed to you. (Click to Enlarge)

Here’s how to make sure you won’t be scammed.

The first place you will receive an official notice from the U.S. Census Bureau is in your mailbox.

Most households will have an invitation to fill out the census online, which is a new option this year. People who are unlikely to fill it out online will receive a census form to mail in. Both forms will ask you a few short questions about where you live, who you are and what you do.

West Kentucky partnership specialist Chris Conklin from the U.S. Census Bureau says they take a lifetime oath to keep your information confidential.

“There’s more than $675 billion that come into states annually through federal funding that is based on census data,” said Conklin.

It also affects where congressional district lines are drawn and determines how seats in the House of Representatives are divided among states. The demographic information is also used by local governments to determine development of the area and by emergency responders to find injured people after natural disasters.

All the basics you need to know about the 2020 Census.

If you get a call from someone claiming to be from the U.S. Census Bureau, ask yourself two questions: Is it too early to start receiving calls from them and what kind of information are they asking you for?

“The U.S. Census Bureau will not ask for Social Security information. We will never ask for banking information or financial institution information from the individual,” Conklin said.

If you don’t fill out the census, you are breaking the law and could owe the government up to $5,000. You could also be fined up to $500 for lying in your answers.

The government will send you reminder letters next year throughout the month of March and beginning of April if you haven’t responded to the initial letters.

Someone will come to knock on your door or call you as the last attempt to fill out the census. You can call 1-800-877-8339 if you would like to verify the person calling you or knocking on your door is a Census Bureau worker.