Every ten years, the United States holds a census. And every time we do, there are reports of scammers looking for ways to steal important, personal information. The 2020 census kicks off Jan. 21 and law enforcement agencies throughout southwest Colorado want you to be on high alert.
Census workers will be busy, verifying addresses and later counting every person living in the 50 states, Washington D.C. and the five US territories. But how can you be sure the person at your door is the real deal?
"If someone stops by your door, they're going to have certain credentials on them. Photo ID, laptop, things of that nature," said Natashia Kerr with Colorado Springs PD.
So government ID, an official bag, logos, and a laptop. But what if you're still uneasy? Police departments are reminding Colorado citizens that the census will never ask for social security numbers, money or bank account info.
"If for some reason you feel this person is not part of the census, the bureau actually has a really great website where you can go in and search the person's name to see if they actually are a part of the census," said Kerr.
Additionally, this is the first census held when people can respond online. Scammers could try to phish your information, leading you to websites that look real but are not. According to the official census website, many of these fake sites can be infected with malware.
"So if you see those phishing emails, don't open them," she said.
So why have a census at all? Well, besides being a constitutional mandate, the data this massive survey provides is critical for lawmakers and business owners, school districts and urban planners to make our communities a better place.
By Apr. 1, every home will get an invitation to participate in the census. If you don't self-identify, that's when you could expect a knock on the door. Remember that the census will never contact you on behalf of a political party. Again, if you do suspect fraud, call their hotline at 800-923-8282.