The Montana Department of Commerce said in a press release last week that people need to be wary of any mailers, flyers, or letters that claim to be official U.S. Census documents requesting money.
The official U.S. Census Bureau surveys will never ask people for money, credit card numbers, or Social Security numbers, and official questionnaires will always be postmarked from the U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Census Bureau.
The reminder comes after a Census "look-a-like" survey was mailed to some people in Cascade County. The survey is called the “2020 Congressional District Census” and was mailed by the Republican National Committee.
The document uses the word "census" to mean that it is surveying "key members and supporters" of the Republican party. Its use of the word "census" does not mean that it is part of the official U.S. Census. In addition, it asks respondents to pay $15 for processing the “Census Document.”
In May and September of 2019, similar "Census" look-a-like mailers were sent to people in Gallatin, Lewis and Clark, Jefferson and Missoula counties.
The state Department of Commerce said that members of the House Oversight Committee in Congress asked the U.S. Census Bureau to get involved and requested that the spoofed mailers be stopped. Congress has taken steps to prevent Census look-a-like mailings. For example, in 2010, the Prevent Deceptive Census Look Alike Mailings Act became law.
The 2020 Census count will begin next month. Official documents for the Census will be mailed or left on doors of every household in Montana beginning in mid-March.
The agency says that a complete count of Montanans is important because it determines the state’s share of federal funding for the next decade, it shapes local voting districts, and it determines whether Montana will get another member in the U.S. House of Representatives.