What can Wyoming libraries do to fight off “fake news” and census scams?
Wyoming and other states have reported census scams for several months now and, with the Census 2020 invitations being mailed to households in a couple of weeks, the fight against misinformation is stronger than ever. Reported census scams include phone calls, mailers, and even emails.
These census scams are very painful for the count since some patrons may not want to fill out the actual 2020 Census because they think they already filled one out and it is no longer applicable to them, or they no longer trust any census-related materials they receive.
Remind your staff and patrons the census is free to participate in and will never ask for money, bank account numbers, credit card numbers, or social security numbers. Another red flag when looking over census frauds is questions about a resident’s political party. The Census 2020 questionnaire does not ask for an individual’s chosen political party.
You and your library can be LOTSA help to your patrons for the 2020 Census by addressing these key points:
- Logo: All communication from the U.S. Census Bureau will have the official United States Census 2020 logo on it (see an example here). If you or your patrons receive a form or questionnaire that does not have this logo showing, it is a scam.
- Online: Even though this is the first census available for online completion, the U.S. Census Bureau is not sending out emails to complete the census. Households will receive a physical invitation to complete the questionnaire (either by mail or by door-to-door delivery through an official field representative). If a patron receives a “census” email invitation, it is fraudulent and they should not click on any links provided. Patrons may submit their questionnaires by phone, online, and by mail.
- Trustworthiness: By law, the census must keep your information confidential, and sharing or granting access of your information to any law enforcement agency is prohibited. Still, patrons may be worried their answers aren’t safe online (or anywhere else) for a multitude of reasons. Refer to American Libraries’ “Fact Versus Fear” to see how libraries across the country are battling census anxieties.
- Spread Awareness: The U.S. Census Bureau needs your help setting the record straight — click here for more official information, and report rumors you see or hear (big and small) to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you or your patrons are unsure of the source of anything claiming to be related to the 2020 Census, you can call 1-800-923-8282 to speak with a U.S. Census Bureau representative and verify its validity. There is no concern too big or too small — the U.S. Census Bureau is taking safety very seriously and is providing these resources to assist anyone with concerns, to increase awareness of harmful fraudulent information, and to strengthen the awareness of true information. Click here for statistics and common myths (and how to bust them!) in the latest issue of American Libraries.
To help promote real information about the 2020 Census, follow the U.S. Census Bureau on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram where you can share Census 2020 content with your patrons, directly from the source. Census representatives also share information for complete count partners (libraries, schools, community officials, etc.) that your library might find helpful. Clicking “share” will reach your followers easily and won’t cost you a penny!
This year is the first census offering online completion, and patrons may be reaching out to their local library for internet and computer resources. Through training in your library, overall census awareness, and promotion in your community, we can help Wyoming achieve a Complete Count!
Do you have a Census 2020 program planned for your library? Let us know and we’ll share the information with our local Census 2020 partners to spread the word!