3 ON YOUR SIDE (3TV) - America, get ready to be counted because it won't be long before the U.S. Census Bureau will be sending you a questionnaire in the mail and knocking on your door. The U.S. Constitution requires a census every 10 years to keep up with a variety of different categories, including how many people live in a specific area. That's important because the U.S. Census Bureau claims Maricopa County is the fastest-growing county adding nearly 100,000 people from 2017 to 2018.
Tammy Parise is with the U.S. Census Bureau and says beginning in March, the agency will begin mailing out questionnaires across the nation, including Arizona. Regardless of if you're a legal resident or not, Parise says you're required to respond, whether it's by phone, mail or for the first time, online. "Accuracy of the 2020 census is critical for the state of Arizona and nationwide, really," said Parise.
Parise adds for those who don't respond, U.S. Census Bureau workers will fan out in May and go door-to-door collecting the necessary information. And that's a process that can be attractive to a scammer.
"Determining who's a true census worker, we do know that decennial brings scams alongside of that," said Parise.
[LEARN MORE: Sample copy of census questionnaire]
Concerned that scammers will pose as U.S. Census Bureau workers to steal your information, the U.S. Census Bureau has teamed up with the Federal Trade Commission in warning the public about potential look-a-likes. The key is knowing what to look for. "You can identify a true Census Bureau employee, they will have a badge. Each of the census takers going door to door will also have a black briefcase bag with a white Census logo," said Parise.
If a U.S. Census Bureau taker shows up at your door, keep in mind they will not ask you for any sensitive information. In addition, scammers may even try to call you, posing a census taker, looking to steal sensitive information. Real census workers will not call, but fake ones might. Here's an example of one of those fake calls 3 On Your Side found on YouTube.
"The Census Bureau will never ask for a Social Security number. We will never ask for bank account numbers anything of that nature," said Parise. After you verify that you're dealing with a real U.S. Census Bureau worker, you'll be asked nine questions. Parise reminds everyone that it's important that you answer honestly because U.S. Census Bureau results will decide where to build new roads, schools, hospitals and emergency services.
[WHAT TO KNOW: Fact vs. Fiction for 2020 census]
"Responding to the 2020 Census is about shaping your future. My future, your children's future, anyone you know' s future," said Parise.