'Get the word out': Watching out for 2020 census scams

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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV)-- A count of the U.S. population only happens once every decade and the Census Bureau says scammers are taking the opportunity to get access to your personal information.

A fraudulent 2020 census form. (Source: WMTV)

A Sun Prairie Alder almost fell victim and is warning others after scammers nearly tricked him into giving up personal information about his political party affiliation.

Steve Stocker, 1ST District Alder in Sun Prairie recently got a letter in the mail.

"I opened it and right away you will notice it says ‘do not destroy official document’ and so I thought this must be something that is very important to fill out," said Stocker.

The document was titled, 2020 Congressional District Census. Stocker says this was the first red flag because the Census doesn’t begin mailing information out until March.

It turns out, the letter Stocker received wasn’t from the Census but from a political organization attempting to find out his party affiliation.

Scammers will use methods like this to get information from you that the census bureau says it would never ask you.

"It’s easy to impersonate the census. It’s easy to ask for money, ask for your social security number, for your bank or card information because you see the Census and you know that it’s a Census year," says Sandy Xiong, who is part of Sun Prairie’s Complete Count Committee

She says the biggest advice is to pay attention to the red flags. Invitation letters from the Census aren’t expected to go out until March and will come from Jeffersonville, Indiana.

"We are trying to as a Complete Count Committee to get the word out about what the official documents look like so that you don't fall for one of those scams," said Xiong.

For information on avoiding Census Scams click here