Why You Should Take The Census—and Watch Out for Census Scams

Posted on 02/29/20 by Laura Tillman

Every decade the United States takes a head count, and AARP encourages Texans to make their presence known.

Data from the 2020 census, which will launch April 1, will be used to redraw political lines and to determine state and federal funding levels for programs that older adults rely on.

“An accurate census count is critical because the results determine how congressional seats will be divided and how billions in federal dollars are appropriated,” explained Tina Tran, state director for AARP Texas.

The funding, she said, affects health care, education, housing and transportation spending, as well as programs for older Americans, including Medicare Part B.

It’s possible that Texas could gain three congressional seats if its population grows as expected—but only if people are counted.

“Texans need full representation,” Tran said.

An undercount of 1 percent in the 2010 census would have resulted in federal funding losses of almost $300 million for the state, noted John Vasquez, a member of the San Antonio/Bexar County Complete Count Committee.

This year, Vasquez, 65, of San Antonio, who also serves on the AARP Texas Executive Council, is working hard to ensure that communities that are often undercounted participate fully.

“We know from data in the 2010 census that undercounted persons are more likely to be under 5 years old, over 65, lower income and people of color,” Vasquez said.

The census is designed to collect basic information on every American, including age, race, sex and marital status.

For the first time, people will be able to fill out census forms online, but paper documents will still be available for those uncomfortable with a digital format.

Participants can also complete the questionnaire by calling 844-330-2020.

Those who do not respond to initial contact attempts by mail will be visited at home by a census taker.

Beware of Census Fraud

Unfortunately, the census presents an opportunity for scammers. Be on the lookout for signs that you have been contacted by someone other than a valid census worker.

The Census Bureau will not send unsolicited emails to request your participation in the population tally.

And census takers will carry identification with a photo, the U.S. Commerce Department watermark and the expiration date.

They will not ask for your Social Security number or bank or credit card information, or request donations to a cause or political party.

To verify that a census taker or caller is legitimate, contact the Dallas regional office at 972-510-1800. If you suspect fraud, call your local police.

Census information is not shared with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement or the FBI.

Because the census requires a concerted effort for a few months, it offers temporary job opportunities throughout the state, typically paying from $15 to $20 an hour.

For more information, including that on job opportunities and potential fraud, visit 2020census.gov or aarp.org/census, or call 800-932-8282.

Laura Tillman is a writer living in McAllen.

For More on the 2020 Census:

5 Ways to Avoid Census Scams
How to Become a 2020 Census Worker

This story is provided by AARP Texas. Visit the AARP Texas page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.

More from AARP in Austin

Upcoming AARP Events

View All AARP Events »


You can find CDC’s latest coronavirus information at cdc.gov/coronavirus; AARP information and resources are at aarp.org/coronavirus. En español, visite aarp.org/elcoronavirus.

AARP Member Card

Join or Renew Today

JOIN FOR JUST $16 A YEAR

  • Immediate access to your member benefits
  • Discounts on travel and everyday savings
  • Subscription to the award-winning AARP The Magazine
  • An ally on the issues that matter most to you in Austin
  • Free membership for your spouse or partner
JOIN NOW