The Constitution requires a census of the United States take place every 10 years, with the goal of counting the nation’s population. After the initial count, the Census Bureau follows up by calling samples of U.S. households for quality control purposes or to gather more information to create a fuller portrait of the nation’s population.
The follow-up calls are made from a single outbound phone number: 844-809-7717. If that number appears in your caller ID display, it may be a legitimate call. But scammers may attempt to spoof that number, or a similar one, so that it appears in your caller ID as coming from "Census Bureau."
Watch out for obvious red flags. The Census Bureau says it will never ask for:
- Your Social Security number
- Your bank account or credit card numbers
- Anything on behalf of a political party
- Money or donations
If a caller asks for such information, it’s a scam. Hang up immediately. You can report the scam to the Census Bureau by calling 844-330-2020 and to the FCC at consumercomplaints.fcc.gov.
Threats of jail time or fines for failure to respond are also a sure sign of a scam. Not responding to the census is not punishable by fines or jail.
Census Text Messages
This year, a limited number of people across the country will receive a text message from the Census Bureau to participate in the 2020 Census User Experience survey. These text messages will come from the following numbers: 833-972-2561, 833-969-2724, 833-972-2579.
Or you may be selected to participate in the Household Pulse Survey: Measuring Social and Economic Impacts During the COVID-19 Pandemic. If so, you will be contacted by COVID.firstname.lastname@example.org or a text message from 39242.
Always take care before clicking on a link in an unsolicited text message or email. For any census-related text, check the number and confirm it matches one of those listed above, and make sure that the response link goes to a .gov web address to confirm that the number hasn’t been spoofed by a scammer. The FCC has additional tips on how to avoid text scams.
Other Census Surveys
In addition to the 2020 Census, the Census Bureau conducts over 100 surveys. If you’ve been selected for one of these surveys you may get a call from a Census contact center or from a field representative.
Always verify that the study is legitimate by checking the survey name on the Census Bureau's list of surveys before responding. You can also call the Census Bureau's National Processing Center to verify a telephone survey.
Most Census Bureau calls asking you to participate in a survey, other than the 2020 Census, originate from one of the following numbers:
- (812) 218-3144, Jeffersonville Contact Center
- (520) 798-4152, Tucson Contact Center
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
For other ongoing surveys, contact may be initiated by email. For example:
- For the Small Business Pulse Survey, you will be contacted by email@example.com.
- If you have previously opted in to participate in Census Bureau research studies, you may get an email from firstname.lastname@example.org.
Remember to always protect your personal information - passwords, PINs, mother’s maiden name, Social Security number, insurance information, passport numbers, etc. Identity thieves may attempt to collect this information for use in future scam attempts or to sell on the dark web.