Census Bureau phone calls? They’re probably legit

WASHINGTON — If you got a call on your cellphone from someone saying they’re with the US Census Bureau and they’d like you to call back — chances are it’s legitimate.

“Whether or not the phone call from the U.S. Census Bureau is legitimate is probably the number one call that I get,” said Tom Edwards, who’s a “respondent advocate” with the U.S. Census Bureau.“

Typically, field representatives will call if the bureau has mailed a form to your house and didn’t get a response, Edwards said. The calls are done year round and collect information used in a variety of ways. “We do the current population survey, for example, that helps determine the unemployment rate each month,” he said.

When field representatives visit homes and the resident isn’t in, Edwards says they will leave a card with contact information. Whether you get a phone call or a card, you can check with the U.S. Census Bureau to verify the person that contacted you is working for the bureau. “Our staff search is essentially a directory of all our census employees. And if you put in their last name, or even both of their names, you can verify that they’re a field representative working for the Census Bureau” Edwards says.

You can call also a Census call center directly and verify whether a phone call is legitimate. Contact information for the call centers is available on the Census Bureau website.

Kate Ryan

As a member of the award-winning WTOP News, Kate is focused on state and local government. Her focus has always been on how decisions made in a council chamber or state house affect your house. She's also covered breaking news, education and more.

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