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2020 Census leaders warn census scams are on the way

Residents report receiving fraudulent census mail
Posted at 4:17 PM, Mar 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-09 20:38:59-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — In just a few weeks people across the country will be asked to respond to 2020 Census questions. News5 Investigates is stepping in to warn you about ways scammers are already trying to take advantage of this process.

There are three main ways crooks are going to try to steal sensitive information from you, using the census as cover.

1- Sending you fraudulent packets in the mail: The crooks then hope you'll send them back information like your social security number, or banking information.

2- Phishing emails: Most people will be taking the census online. Crooks will try to get you to click on fake links as part of this process.

3- Census worker impostors showing up at your door: Federal officials say census workers will have identification and can be veified through the census website.

News5 has learned at least one of these tactics was already used to target people right here in Colorado Springs.

It appears the first sign of census scams is already showing up in some of our mailboxes. Carol an 80-year-old Colorado Springs resident called News5 to share the news.

“I got a letter that was urging me to send in my census immediately," Carol said. “Everything looked so formal and so real. I think it is very easy to fool people.”

Jonathan Liebert is a 2020 Census Co-Chair for El Paso and Teller Counties. He's heard similar concerns about fraudulent census packets arriving in the mail.

“It’s not going to be a three or four page document either, which is what this was. So, no. Don’t fill that out. It's 10 questions. It's quick. It's easy and you should not be filling anything out at this point,” said Liebert

Liebert says the best way to protect yourself is to understand what thieves are after.

“If they're asking for bank account information, don't give it. Social Security information, don't give it. If they ask you political questions or political party information don't do that. Don't make donations I mean some of these basic types of things," said Liebert.

These types of questions are red flags and are not a part of the 2020 Census

“The Census is quick and easy. It is 10 questions. It will take you 10 minutes or less. So there shouldn't be a lot of information on there. You can go online and look at what the questions are going to be now, so you can be prepared for the Census," said Liebert.

Participating and being counted in the 2020 Census will be important for the future of the State of Colorado.

“The Census is very important for everybody. The State of Colorado gets money for each person that gets counted is worth between $2,300 and $2,700. There are potentially some seats at Stake. We can add more to Colorado being represented in Washington DC. So we want people to be counted,” said Liebert.

But people in Southern Colorado are beginning to understand when it comes to this once in a decade event, we have to be on guard.

“Absolutely frustrated. There’s no other way to put that. It seems like we face fraud every day,” said Carol.

Census Fay is April 1st. That's when people will be urged to take the 10 question census survey online. If you don't, there's a good chance a census worker may show up at your door and you'll want to take steps to verify who they are.

Here are some government resources to help you protect yourself against census related scams