Beware of 2020 census scams, officials warn

Officials are warning Marylanders to beware of scams as the 2020 census launches in earnest this week. (WTOP/Melissa Howell)

Americans lose $3 billion annually to scams, and as the region prepares for the 2020 census, officials are asking people to beware of scams.

They’re especially sending a warning to seniors, as experts with the AARP, U.S. Census Bureau and Maryland’s attorney general’s office offer advice on how to avoid becoming a victim.

There will be a total of five mailings sent out between now through April in Maryland, with the first invitation to complete the census going out this week. For the first time, those invitations will provide a link to complete the census online.

When it comes to potential scams, Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh said that though online access will be convenient, the Census Bureau does not send out unsolicited emails.

“Don’t respond to it, don’t open it — just delete it,” Frosh said.

The Census Bureau will also never ask for your Social Security number, license number, financial information or contact anyone on behalf of a political party.

In May, census workers will also begin visiting homes that haven’t responded to the mail invitations. “They should have a census badge with a photo, a name and an expiration date,” said Thomas Coogan Jr. with the Census Bureau.

A phone town hall will take place Thursday from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., where Maryland residents can ask questions and receive additional information. Register here.

For more information about the census, visit the bureau’s website.

Melissa Howell

Melissa Howell joined WTOP Radio in March 2018 and is excited to cover stories that matter across D.C., as well as in Maryland and Virginia. 

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