HARRISBURG (KDKA) – Pennsylvania officials are warning residents about the potential of scammers using the 2020 census to cause confusion.
Department of Community and Economic Development Secretary Dennis Davin made the announcement after the Philadelphia Inquirer reported officials say fakes that look like the Census are being sent out by the Republican National Committee in an attempt to get information ahead of a “contentious election.”
According to a news release, red flags include being asked for your social security number, bank or credit card information or your mother’s maiden name. If it’s asking for money, donations or anything on behalf of a political party, it’s not the real deal.
“We are aware of this happening in the Philadelphia area. In Delaware, Montgomery and Bucks Counties. Not sure if it’s more widespread than that,” said Casey Smith, communications director for the Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development.
To protect yourself from scams, the news release says to make sure any letters have the return address of Jeffersonville, Indiana.
When it comes to scammers pretending to be census employees, if you receive a call, you can contact the U.S. Census Bureau at 1-800-923-8282 to make who you talked to is legit. If someone visits you, ask for identification.
“The U.S. Census has a team of cybersecurity experts that work with the federal intelligence community and it is literally their job to review and protect data. And everything they do is subject to the highest scrutiny possible,” Smith said.
And if you receive an email or are sent a link, you should check to make sure the URL begins with “https” and has a lock symbol. The news release says if you’re suspicious, don’t reply, click links or open attachments.
“Not only can this erode public trust in the process but it can also be detrimental to the response rates,” said Smith.
For more information, you can visit the Pa. Census’ website.