Police agencies in the area are cautioning area residents to be vigilant and wary of potential scams surrounding the 2020 U.S. Census as the world navigates their way through the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
With all eyes on the virus, the Fairfield Police Department issued an alert warning that residents should not respond to any fraudulent emails, text messages or social media posts regarding the Census.
Police said that scammers have been stating that their victims need to respond to the 2020 U.S. Census in order to receive a COVID-19 stimulus check from the federal government.
Scammers then use fraudulent census websites to retrieve personal information in exchange for false stimulus checks.
Residents should also be aware of fraudsters posing as census workers going door-to-door inquiring about money or personal information.
According to police, “the 2020 U.S. Census Bureau will never ask for a social security number, bank account or credit card numbers, or for money or donations, and will never threaten jail time for not responding to the census. It will also never send unsolicited emails requesting participation in the census.”
The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) offered recommendations to help identify if a census or census worker is legitimate:
- A census worker who comes to your house will have a Census Bureau photo ID badge (with a Department of Commerce watermark and an expiration date) and a copy of the letter the bureau sent you. Ask for these and double-check their name on the Census Bureau’s online staff directory;
- Confirm that the questionnaire you’ve received is on the Census Bureau’s official list of household or business surveys;
- Contact the bureau’s National Processing Center or the regional office for your state to verify that an American Community Survey or other census communication is real.
- Check that a census mailing has a return address of Jeffersonville, Indiana, the site of the National Processing Center. If it’s from somewhere else, it’s not from the Census Bureau;
- Check the URL of any supposed Census website. Make sure it has a census.gov domain and is encrypted — look for "https://" or a lock symbol in the browser window.
"It's unfortunate how common it is to see scammers trying to take advantage of people during uncertain times," Fairfield County Police Chief Christopher Lyddy said. "We would like to remind everyone to be aware of your surroundings and not accept any offers from people posing as census workers. The COVID-19 stimulus checks are not related to your 2020 U.S. Census information. Anyone claiming otherwise is a scammer."
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