Scam Alert: Safeguarding Your Personal Data During The 2020 Census

Every 10 years, the United States Census Bureau requires all Americans to submit data, giving insight into demographic and population changes throughout the country. However, with the increasing presence of technology, protecting your personal data can become difficult, and if you are not careful, you may find yourself caught in a scam. Here, the qualified CPAs at Fitzpatrick, Leary & Szarko outline protocols for ensuring that your data is kept safe during this year’s census. 

Each Household Is Required to Complete the Census

Each household in the United States is required to complete the census, sharing personal data that is then used to outline patterns and population changes across the country. Questions in the census include the type of home you live in, the number of people residing with you, as well as age, race, gender and date of birth for each household member. While the Census Bureau is diligent in keeping your information confidential, other outside sources may try to pose as a legitimate organization in hopes of gaining your personal data for illegal activity. Additionally, the census is being offered online in 2020, giving hackers and con artists the chance to virtually obtain private information from you or your loved ones. 

Types of Census Scams and What to Look Out For

With the growth of technology, census scams have reached an entirely new scale, and it is important to understand when to be vigilant and how to recognize these scams. Census scams can be implemented through the mail, door-to-door canvassing, online, by telephone and through job applications. For example, if you receive any emails, especially ones asking you to download information, do not open them. The Census Bureau will not send emails in regards to census completion, but rather, will send a formal letter outlining the process to properly complete the census. Additionally, be vigilant if you are applying for jobs with agencies such as the Census Bureau. Many scammers will ask for personal information such as your Social Security number, and ask for an application fee. For legitimate Census Bureau jobs, there would not be an application fee, and personal information would not be given until well into the hiring process.

Additionally, if an individual comes to your home claiming to be from the U.S. Census Bureau, be sure to ask for valid identification. A valid I.D. badge should include a photograph of the worker, a U.S. Department of Commerce watermark and a clear expiration date. If the individual can not provide you with any identification, or they are missing areas of their I.D., do not hesitate to contact a Census Bureau representative, or if needed, local law enforcement. 

Stay Safe With the Help of Fitzpatrick, Leary & Szarko

The census is a fantastic way to monitor changes in population and important data across the United States. However, with a document that is completed by the entirety of the U.S. population, there is room for negligent individuals to pursue scams. When completing the census this year, be sure to thoroughly research the process, validate information that claims to be from the Census Bureau and be diligent about protecting your personal information both in-person and online. The qualified individuals at Fitzpatrick, Leary & Szarko are here to ensure that your data is adequately protected from those who may seek to harm you financially. To learn more about additional financial services we offer, contact us today