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2020 Census: Fact v Fiction

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The Federal Trade Commission is partnering with the U.S. Census Bureau to help you guard against potential census scams. Knowing how the 2020 Census process works, what information you will — and won’t — be asked for, and some red flags will help you spot and report scams.

The Process

In mid-March 2020, the Census Bureau will start mailing out (and, in some areas, hand delivering) invitations to participate in the 2020 Census. You should get yours by April 1. You can respond online, by phone, or by mail.

The Census Bureau has an important job: to count every person living in the United States. Starting in May 2020, census takers will start visiting homes that haven’t responded to make sure everyone is counted. If you aren’t home or can’t come to the door, the census taker will come back up to six times. Each time, they’ll leave a door hanger with a phone number so you can call to schedule a visit.

The Questions

The census questionnaire asks how many people are in the home at the time you complete the form; their sex, age, race, ethnicity; their relationships to one another; phone number; and whether you own or rent the home. For the full list of questions on the 2020 Census, visit Questions Asked.

Signs of a Scam

Scammers may pose as census takers to get your personal information — and then use it to commit identity theft and other frauds. But there are ways you can identify official census takers.

Census takers must show a photo ID with the U.S. Department of Commerce seal and an expiration date. If you ask, the census taker will give you a supervisor’s contact information and/or the census regional office phone number for verification.

The Census Bureau will never ask for your full Social Security number, bank account or credit card numbers, money or donations, or anything on behalf of a political party. The 2020 Census will not ask citizenship status.

The Census Bureau may call you as part of their follow-up and quality control efforts. They also might call if you’re not home when a census taker stops by or when a personal visit is not convenient. Calls will come from one of the Census Bureau’s contact centers or from a field representative. Since we all know you can’t trust caller ID, visit How to identify a phone call from the Census Bureau for the phone numbers you can use to check out any calls you might get.

Make sure you have the latest and most accurate information about the 2020 Census. Visit 2020 Census Rumors to fact-check and ask questions.

If you suspect fraud, call 800-923-8282 to speak with a local Census Bureau representative. You also can file a report with the FTC at Your reports may help law enforcement agencies launch investigations that could stop imposters and other fraudsters in their tracks.

Want information on the latest frauds and scams we’re seeing? Sign up for our consumer alerts.



It would be a benefit to us all if you show us an actual I.D. rather than what one should contain Census takers must show a photo ID with the U.S. Department of Commerce seal and an expiration date Thank you
- Ken

send this info out again closer to census

Good idea, thanks.

This is extremely important to all but especially seniors and those living alone Thank you for the info which I will share

Will you be putting out a handout we can give out with this info including the details from the link "how to identify a phone call..." and the Rumors info?

Here's the information about How to Identify a call from the Census Bureau. I didn't insert the Rumors 2020 information now. I think information will go on that page if any rumors develop over time.

How to identify a phone call from the Census Bureau

If your address was selected to be in a survey, we may call you to participate. Some surveys are done exclusively by phone. We might also call you if we do not find you at home or when a personal visit is not convenient.  You may receive a call from one of our contact centers or from a field representative.

Contact centers

The Census Bureau uses two contact centers, one in Jeffersonville, Indiana, and the other in Tucson, Arizona. The caller will identify themselves and the name of the survey. If they are unable to reach you, they will leave a message with a case ID associated with your survey.

Most Census Bureau calls asking you to participate in a survey originate from one of the following numbers:

  • (812) 218-3144, Jeffersonville Contact Center
  • (520) 798-4152, Tucson Contact Center

If you receive a call and wish to independently verify that a number is from the Census Bureau, you can call one of the following numbers:

  • 1-800-523-3205   Jeffersonville, IN
  • 1-800-642-0469   Tucson, AZ
  • 1-800-923-8282   Customer Service Center

"Since we all know you can’t trust caller ID, visit How to identify a phone call from the Census Bureau for the phone numbers you can use to check out any calls you might get." I am sure the scammers appreciate this list & will spoof the numbers you provided.

The link in our blog connects to a list of US Census Customer Service centers that you can call INTO if you want to check on a call.

After reading this and the comments, it appears to me you have given scammers a lot of the information they need to get started on setting up a scam. Certainly enough information to make me skeptical of any contact from the "Census Bureau".

The Census Bureau will start by mail, and, in some areas, hand delivering, invitations to participate in the 2020 Census. You should get yours by April 1.

You can choose how to respond: online, by phone, or by mail. If you're worried about being scammed, make sure you know the questions the census will ask.

What if do not want to give out our phone number? Do we reeaally have to? Isn't that one of those questions that we can "Prefer not to answer".

The information you give is protected by federal law. The Census Bureau is bound by Title 13 of the United States Code.  Private information is never published.

  • It is against the law to disclose or publish any private information that identifies an individual or business such, including names, addresses (including GPS coordinates), Social Security Numbers, and telephone numbers.
  • Census Bureau employees are sworn to protect confidentiality. People sworn to uphold Title 13 are legally required to maintain the confidentiality of your data. Every person with access to your data is sworn for life to protect your information and understands that the penalties for violating this law are applicable for a lifetime.

Yes, that's good but Scammers don't really care about Laws. They could very well use all the information you just gave us to present themselves as ligament Census Bureau Employees that are bound by "Title 13 of the United States Code" (in blue font color)

Don't forget the Census is out working on other surveys all year long and it's not a scam.

Thank you for all the information!

People with post office boxes did not receive the census last time. I picked one up and mailed it in. I do not not have a mailbox at my residence.

please send out the is info again closer to the actual census time

I completed my census and mailed it in. Everything was completed correctly. I received a call from someone claiming to be with the census stating they wanted to verify all information was correct and that it would only take about 20 minutes. I told the caller that all the information is correct and told them I would not be answering their questions and hung up. Since then, I have received about 6 calls from the census bureau. Why do they keep calling me? I have blocked the number.

I filled out my census very carefully on line. I’ve received at least 10 calls. I keep telling them the info I already gave on line is correct and to stop calling me. Why do I continue to get calls?

I've been receiving calls for weeks. I have no idea whether or not it is the census bureau but I will not return any of the calls because I presume it is fraudulent. It is ill-conceived in today's security environment for the government even to think it is appropriate to leave a message asking for a return call, and I'm surprised that on this website the government is admitting that they will sometimes call. Madness.

I recently began receiving calls from a number claiming to be from the Census Bureau. I completed my survey a month ago online. It is accurate. I'm not calling this number back due to not knowing the legitimacy of this call AND due to the calls having various reference numbers.

I have had the exact same thing happening.

Same. Everyday, I receive MULTIPLE calls with a recorded message. I filled out our info correctly.

I completed the online version and there were boxes for entering social security numbers. I wonder now if the site was legitimate.

I completed and mailed my census at the end of April. I've not been contacted via phone or mail stating it still needed to be done. I had a person show up at my house yesterday, Sunday August 2nd to complete my survey. I didn't answer the door because I didn't know who it was. They left a flyer stating my survey needed to be completed. I called the number on the flyer and no one I spoke to was able to confirm if my survey had been received or if anyone should be showing up at my house. I don't know who to contact in regards to this, as I stated previously I completed and mailed my survey and haven't been contacted since. Any suggestions?

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