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Published: Jan 3, 2020

2020 Census Safety -- How to Keep Your Identity Protected

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Every ten years, the nation holds a census to account for every resident in the United States. The information gathered is used to help residents, businesses, and local governments to better serve communities across the country.


When the census is conducted, residents are asked a number of questions about their household, and this decennial event can be taken advantage of by scammers to get the personal information of prospective victims.


We at MSU Federal Credit Union want to make sure that your information and that of your family stays secure, and that only the appropriate answers are given to the right individuals.


How does it work?


The process begins in mid-March of 2020 when the Census Bureau mails out or hand delivers invitations to participate. Everyone should receive their invitation by April 1. Census responses can be submitted online, by phone, or by mail.


Beginning in May of 2020, census takers will start visiting homes that have not responded to ensure that everyone is accounted for. If you are unable to answer the door or are not home, the census taker will come back up to six times, leaving a door hanger each time with a phone number that you can call to schedule a visit.


Red Flags


Being that the purpose of the census is to gather information on individuals and households across the country, it is an unfortunate opportunity for scammers to pose as census takers to gain personal information to be used in identity theft and other frauds.


There are numerous rumors circulating regarding the 2020 Census, and familiarizing yourself with them can help you to know what to expect.


While there is a lot to be aware of, the most crucial information to know is that the Census Bureau will never ask for your full Social Security number, account or card numbers, money or donations, anything on behalf of a political party, or citizenship status.


Census takers must also present an ID badge with their name, photograph, Department of Commerce watermark, and expiration date.


If you want to independently confirm that the person at your door is a genuine Census Bureau employee, you can enter their name into the Census Bureau’s staff search website, or by contacting the regional office for your state. Michigan is served by the Chicago Regional Office, which can be reached at 1-800-865-6384.


You may also receive phone calls as follow-up efforts if you are not home or available when a census taker stops by. To keep yourself safe, here is a resource on how to identify a phone call from the Census Bureau.


What will I be asked?


The questionnaire asks the number of people in the home at the time the form is completed, as well as their age, sex, race, ethnicity, relationships to one another, the respondent’s phone number, and whether the home is owned or rented by the resident. Follow this link for the full list of questions asked.


The 2020 Census is crucial for the wellbeing of communities across the country. The responses of individuals influence decisions about how public funds are utilized for things such as fire and emergency services, health care clinics, schools for your community, and your congressional representation. Make sure you know all of the important information and feel confident responding by visiting the 2020 Census website