BBB Scam Alert: US Census scam preys on stimulus confusion

Tue, 04/28/2020 - 10:30am

    The 2020 United States Census is happening at the same time as a global pandemic, shelter-in-place orders, and government stimulus payments. With so much going on at once, scammers are using the unique circumstances to create confusion. Their goal is to get their hands on your personal information, which they then use to steal your identity.

    How the Scam Works

    You receive an unsolicited message via text, email, or a social media messenger. The message explains that in order to qualify for your stimulus payment, you need to first complete the 2020 U.S. Census. Whether or not you’ve completed the real census, don’t click. It’s a scam! 

    Some versions of the phony message include a link to a website “for more information.” If you click the link, you could unknowingly download malware onto your computer or phone. This virus can give scammers access to your usernames, passwords, and other personal information stored on your computer.

    In other cases, the link may take you to a website that looks like it was created by the official U.S. Census Bureau. However, the website is a fake. You will be asked for personal information, such as your Social Security number and bank account information. The U.S. Census Bureau does not ask for this information!

    How to Avoid Census Scams 

    Know how the U.S. Census Bureau communicates. The U.S. Census Bureau will only send you emails if you already signed up for them, and it will never ask you to send personal information in an email. In addition, the U.S. Census Bureau will never contact you on behalf of a political party.

    Only visit official websites. Valid U.S. government websites almost always end in “.gov”. You can find key information about the 2020 census at 2020census.gov and information about economic stimulus payments at irs.gov/coronavirus