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Old 03-20-2020, 01:09 AM
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Is this a census scam?


I got a letter that appears to be from the census. It gives me an ID number and tells me to go online to fill out my census information by April 1.

But the online address it uses is my2020census.gov and I checked online and the official census site is 2020census.gov.

I tried checking online to see if the my2020census site is a known scam and I found several sites that assured me it's legit. But quite frankly, those sites look more questionable than the letter I received. And it seems to me that if some organization was able to set up one site for an online phishing scam, it would have no problem setting up a few other fake sites to tell people it was legit.

So is this a legitimate alternative site that the government set up for some obscure reason? Or is it a scam?
  #2  
Old 03-20-2020, 01:21 AM
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Not a scam. If you go to 2020census.gov and click where it says "Take the Census" it will take you to the place that my2020census.gov will also take you to. The questions do not require you to reveal any financial information, although you have to put in your birth date.
  #3  
Old 03-20-2020, 06:18 AM
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I got the notice and went and filled out the census right away. Now I'm getting another one, but I tossed the first one and don't know if it's a duplicate or what.

Oh well, they're going to need to redo it after the mess we're in anyway. Numbers might be very different in a few months.
  #4  
Old 03-20-2020, 06:31 AM
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I got the notice and went and filled out the census right away. Now I'm getting another one, but I tossed the first one and don't know if it's a duplicate or what.
Literally the same exact thing happened to me. Got the first one, did it online and threw away the card. Got a second one and I have no idea if the numbers are the same. I threw that one away too.
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Old 03-20-2020, 07:33 AM
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I got two notices four days apart. The numbers on the forms were identical. No idea why they would send two notices, but I'll blame the government.
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Old 03-20-2020, 07:37 AM
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The ".gov" is key. There are restrictions on who can get a ".gov" domain and sometimes somebody finds a workaround for a little while, but generally you can trust them.

I got the form. Did some Googling. And from the 2020census.gov web site found a link to the my2020census.gov site and filled it in.

(Surprisingly short, in my case. YMMV. OTOH, they insisted I fill in the extraction thing. Look, we don't have easyily pegged extraction in many cases and some people have no idea. Just let people leave it blank. Better yet don't ask. Why does the government need this at all? I've done a lot of family genealogy and a simple "Where were you born?" helps much more.)

Two years til the 1950 census goes public!
  #7  
Old 03-20-2020, 07:37 AM
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Originally Posted by mcgato View Post
I got two notices four days apart. The numbers on the forms were identical. No idea why they would send two notices, but I'll blame the government.
Probably because they knew people would throw away at least one of them.
  #8  
Old 03-20-2020, 07:38 AM
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When I did mine, there was mention that I might recieve further mailings and I should ignore them.
  #9  
Old 03-20-2020, 07:39 AM
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I got the letter and verified it through the Census site. The my2020census.gov is the census.
  #10  
Old 03-20-2020, 07:40 AM
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I got two notices four days apart. The numbers on the forms were identical. No idea why they would send two notices, but I'll blame the government.
Same here, and we'll probably get more. It may take a while for the system to register that we've already completed the census for our household.
  #11  
Old 03-20-2020, 07:54 AM
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You can't leave the ancestry questions blank, but there is an option on both of them for "prefer not to say".

And did you notice that the two mailings were in different shapes of envelope? I think they're planning on some set of people who automatically throw out envelopes of the "wrong" shape as junk mail (and which shape is the "wrong" shape could vary from person to person).

It's hard enough to get an accurate census that I'm all in favor of any tricks they can use to make it more accurate.
  #12  
Old 03-20-2020, 08:59 AM
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You can't leave the ancestry questions blank, but there is an option on both of them for "prefer not to say".
Maybe it depends on your browser? Using Firefox on a Windows machine I left it blank and hit submit. It returned the same page with the left-blank area highlighted red. I hit submit again and it accepted it.

It's not that I prefer not to say, but rather I do not know or care.
  #13  
Old 03-20-2020, 09:37 AM
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Maybe it depends on your browser? Using Firefox on a Windows machine I left it blank and hit submit. It returned the same page with the left-blank area highlighted red. I hit submit again and it accepted it.

It's not that I prefer not to say, but rather I do not know or care.
I marked "other" and said "unsure."
  #14  
Old 03-20-2020, 10:22 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mcgato View Post
I got two notices four days apart. The numbers on the forms were identical. No idea why they would send two notices, but I'll blame the government.
Quote:
Originally Posted by ThelmaLou View Post
Probably because they knew people would throw away at least one of them.
Yeah, the second is a reminder for the first. Ignore both and the third would be the paper form.

Last edited by Skywatcher; 03-20-2020 at 10:22 AM.
  #15  
Old 03-20-2020, 10:27 AM
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I printed my confirmation page. I found it odd that it included the sentence:
Quote:
If you receive other mail from the Census Bureau about the 2020 Census in the next few days, please disregard it.
I have a feeling multiple mailings were inadvertently sent out.

For the ancestry/extraction, I'm "English, Irish, German, Swedish, French". I typed that exact phrase into the box, and it accepted it. I'm a bit happy about that; as a 3+ decade amateur genealogist, I've spent a lot of time going over Census records looking for both primary and interesting data (like occupation). Hopefully that bit of info will be useful to someone 70+ years from now.
  #16  
Old 03-20-2020, 11:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mcgato
I got two notices four days apart. The numbers on the forms were identical. No idea why they would send two notices, but I'll blame the government.
Eh, the government probably had SDMB post them.
  #17  
Old 03-20-2020, 12:05 PM
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I'll admit the ancestry part caused me some confusion.

French? Canadian? Quebecois?

I went with French Canadian.
  #18  
Old 03-20-2020, 01:49 PM
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I put down "English" as the ancestry part. It wouldn't accept it if it was blank (I tried a few times).
  #19  
Old 03-20-2020, 02:57 PM
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Why does the government need this at all? I've done a lot of family genealogy and a simple "Where were you born?" helps much more.)
Where I was born is nowhere remotely near where either of my parents was born; neither physically nor culturally.

And giving only the place of birth for my parents would be drastically misleading as to their ethnicity. Come to think of it, it would be misleading as to mine, also.

Place of birth may be useful in your own family for asking a question about ethnicity; but it doesn't work for a lot of other people.

ETA: whether the government actually needs to know about ethnicity is a whole different question. There are good reasons and potentially bad reasons for them to want to. I expect to fill mine in honestly, however.

Last edited by thorny locust; 03-20-2020 at 02:59 PM.
  #20  
Old 03-20-2020, 03:37 PM
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I tried to fill it out, but when I clicked on the start button, nothing happened. Just nothing, not the indication that it was trying to connect that I have gotten so familiar with from TSD, but nothing at all. Perhaps because from a foreign address, but I thought they wanted to tally ex-pats.
  #21  
Old 03-20-2020, 09:33 PM
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The Census will be sending out 6 mailings to every household, followed by 4 in-person visits by a Census worker, until they reach everyone possible. Obviously, as people fill out their Census form, they will be dropped from future mailings & in-person visits (but no doubt mailings are prepared ahead of time, and it will take time for the notice that you have completed the Census to catch up).

The first 2 mailings were planned to arrive about 1 week apart, and were sent to the Postal Service a month ago. Pretty much everyone will get both of those. The third or fourth mailing is an actual paper Census form. If you fill that out on paper and mail it back, I expect that will take even longer to get you recorded as having completed your Census, so you'll likely get more mailings afterwards.

The in-person visits will start May 1st and continue thru May & June. At least, that was the plan. It's probably going to change now. I know my appointment to get my Census credentials was 'postponed' until further notice.

They considered doing phone call Census interviews, but worried about how to do that without a bunch or robocall scammers springing up to cheat the public. Possibly they will look further at this now, trying to find an effective way.

P.S. I don't understand the vehemence of people here 'blaming the government' for multiple Census mailings. The Census is a really important part of our democracy, and they ought to work hard to do it right. And mailing people is the cheapest way to do it.

I must get 2-3 mailings every week trying to sell me on additional credit cards, which I certainly don't need. Plus all the other junk mail. Even charities that I do support insist on spending money to mail me multiple times.
  #22  
Old 03-20-2020, 11:39 PM
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Eh, the government probably had SDMB post them.
504 Mail Time-out
  #23  
Old 03-21-2020, 12:21 PM
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I marked "other" and said "unsure."
I put "human."

And I got both a letter and a post card from them. After finishing I got a receipt page with a number on it, that I copied, along with advice I might get future mailing to complete the census and to ignore them.
  #24  
Old 03-21-2020, 09:12 PM
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Anybody listing their ancestry as Klingon or Kelvan or Ferengi/Kzin ?

ETA: Or Vala or Maia?

Last edited by Senegoid; 03-21-2020 at 09:13 PM.
  #25  
Old 03-21-2020, 09:55 PM
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Apparently the British got so many write-in responses of "Jedi" for a religion census question that they included it as an official option for the next one. Doesn't mean anything official for "Jedi" as a religion (they don't get tax breaks or anything), but it does mean that a lot of people wrote it in.
  #26  
Old 03-23-2020, 09:07 AM
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Originally Posted by Tim@T-Bonham.net View Post
P.S. I don't understand the vehemence of people here 'blaming the government' for multiple Census mailings. The Census is a really important part of our democracy, and they ought to work hard to do it right. And mailing people is the cheapest way to do it.

I must get 2-3 mailings every week trying to sell me on additional credit cards, which I certainly don't need. Plus all the other junk mail. Even charities that I do support insist on spending money to mail me multiple times.
+1

And I don't understand the people, some who posted up thread, putting nonsensical answers such as 'Klingon' or 'Jedi.' They are undoubtedly the same people of bitch that the government doesn't work, or doesn't work for them. It only works for all of us is we all support the government.
  #27  
Old 03-23-2020, 01:35 PM
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I got the notice and went and filled out the census right away. Now I'm getting another one, but I tossed the first one and don't know if it's a duplicate or what.
The one I got specifically said that I might get another one soon and it's ok to disregard as a duplicate. I checked and it had the same alphanumeric code inside, so you only need to do it once.

Quote:
Oh well, they're going to need to redo it after the mess we're in anyway. Numbers might be very different in a few months.
The numbers are always different in a few months. The census is always a somewhat inaccurate snapshot in time, and the interval is constitutionally specified. They're not going to redo it in a few months. They're going to redo it in another 10 years.

Last edited by iamthewalrus(:3=; 03-23-2020 at 01:36 PM.
  #28  
Old 03-23-2020, 01:43 PM
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And I don't understand the people, some who posted up thread, putting nonsensical answers such as 'Klingon' or 'Jedi.' They are undoubtedly the same people of bitch that the government doesn't work, or doesn't work for them. It only works for all of us is we all support the government.
It's not clear to me that the government has a valid use for ancestry data that outweighs the danger of them gathering it. Historically, many governments have done very bad things with that sort of information. Some are doing it right now!
  #29  
Old 03-23-2020, 02:34 PM
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Yeah, given that the form required an answer yet gave no guidance in cases where you aren't sure, I suspect that there will be a lot of garbage data there, e.g., people just guessing something because it's making them put something in. (I put "unknown".)
  #30  
Old 03-23-2020, 03:54 PM
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It's not clear to me that the government has a valid use for ancestry data that outweighs the danger of them gathering it. Historically, many governments have done very bad things with that sort of information. Some are doing it right now!
How could the government do anything statistical or analytical regarding race/ethnicity if it has no race/ethnicity data? Or all the other entities, public and private, for-profit and not-for-profit, that use census numbers?

You can't say something basic like County X or City Y or Ward Z is a% white, b% black, c% Hispanic, etc. without data. And then you can't do analyses like determining if counties or cities or neighborhoods of cities that are predominantly black or latino are underfunded in some public service compared to predominantly white counties/cities/neighborhoods.
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Old 03-23-2020, 03:54 PM
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Question: I completed the census, including the information for my family. Can other family members now disregard their letter, or do they still need to go online and respond as well?
  #32  
Old 03-23-2020, 04:04 PM
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If you answered for your entire household, then the rest of your household can ignore it. But each separate household in your family -- i.e., a sister and her husband and children living in another home -- has to answer for itself.

Last edited by John Bredin; 03-23-2020 at 04:07 PM.
  #33  
Old 03-23-2020, 04:48 PM
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Thanks.
  #34  
Old 03-24-2020, 08:17 AM
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Hopefully, you didn't answer on behalf of any family members not living in your household-- The directions were pretty clear not to do that.
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Old 03-24-2020, 10:08 AM
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No, I answered for members of my household, which is indeed what the questions ask about.
  #36  
Old 03-24-2020, 10:21 AM
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The questionnaire specifies "living at this address on April 1". My mother-in-law, who's home is with her son in the same area, is staying with us to reduce her COVID exposure (we're boring, inactive people). She probably will still be with us on April 1.

But ours isn't her "home", so I left her off our household report, and coordinated with my brother-in-law to be sure to include her on his report.
  #37  
Old 03-24-2020, 10:45 AM
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The questionnaire specifies "living at this address on April 1". My mother-in-law, who's home is with her son in the same area, is staying with us to reduce her COVID exposure (we're boring, inactive people). She probably will still be with us on April 1.

But ours isn't her "home", so I left her off our household report, and coordinated with my brother-in-law to be sure to include her on his report.
That's the best way to do it, she's "visiting" you but "living" at her son's.
  #38  
Old 03-24-2020, 11:41 AM
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I think that, under the Census' standards, she would count as "living with" you. But if you coordinated with your brother-in-law to use the same standard, it works out the same.
  #39  
Old 03-24-2020, 03:23 PM
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How could the government do anything statistical or analytical regarding race/ethnicity if it has no race/ethnicity data? Or all the other entities, public and private, for-profit and not-for-profit, that use census numbers?

You can't say something basic like County X or City Y or Ward Z is a% white, b% black, c% Hispanic, etc. without data. And then you can't do analyses like determining if counties or cities or neighborhoods of cities that are predominantly black or latino are underfunded in some public service compared to predominantly white counties/cities/neighborhoods.
I see you disregarded the "that outweighs the danger of them gathering it" part. Do you need a list of the horrific things that governments do and have done with ethnicity data?

You can absolutely do the kinds of things you're talking about by doing some random sampling rather than by establishing a database that correlates names, addresses, and ethnicity data.
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Old 03-25-2020, 12:14 PM
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Just did mine.

It showed my address and I answered yes, hit next and it asked if I would be staying at this address on April 1st, answered yes, but the only button provided was Previous not Next.

Apparently the site does not like Edge or Internet Explorer, I tried both. Chrome worked just fine.
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