KSL INVESTIGATES

Unsolicited Text From U.S. Census Bureau Has Link To COVID Survey: Is It Legit?

Sep 3, 2020, 6:30 PM | Updated: Sep 4, 2020, 9:08 am

MURRAY, Utah – A text message making the rounds claiming to be from the U.S. Census Bureau is asking recipients to fill out surveys about COVID-19.

When a Murray woman got the text out of  the blue, she thought maybe it was part of a new scam, so she contacted the KSL Investigators. As it turns out, it wasn’t a message designed to chisel her out of her money or her personal information.

“I got this text that said it was from the Census Bureau,” said Patricia Worthington. “When I got this, I thought, I’ve already responded to the census. It was a little strange.”

Worthington received several similar messages from the same five-digit SMS short code number – each asking her to click a link so she could fill out a survey about the COVID-19 situation. To her, it bore the hallmarks of a scam.

“I’ve been getting an awful lot of texts that are really clearly fraudulent or something I don’t want to reply to,” she said.

To Worthington, who said she worked as a census taker for the 2000 census, it felt odd that the Census Bureau would even ask people about COVID. Isn’t that more in the wheelhouse of outfits like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or Health and Human Services?

“I just was concerned enough that I didn’t want to respond but if it was okay – then sure, I’d be happy to respond,” she said.

We took Worthington’s texts to the U.S. Census Bureau and they told us in an email that, yes – the texts she received are legitimate.

Turns out, bureau officials said they’re “collecting data to measure household experiences during the coronavirus pandemic.”

It’s called the Household Pulse Survey, and the data it collects pertains to job status, spending, food security, housing, health, access to health care and schooling. And survey invites are being sent through texts and emails because the Census Bureau aims to provide state and federal agencies real-time data for planning and recovery efforts.

So, how do you know if the text is really from the bureau, and not a scammer? It’ll come from this SMS short code number – 39242. The same number appeared on all those texts Worthington received. The Census Bureau is also sending emails to Americans it has chosen to survey. Official emails are sent from, CovidSurvey@Census.gov.

Worthington said knowing now the link is valid, she plans to fill out the survey.

You might recall that when the first round of stimulus money went out, thousands got bogus texts and emails from the supposed Census Bureau, saying they had to fill out the census to get their check which is 100% untrue.

Now that Congress is hammering out a second round of stimulus checks, expect a resurgence in that scam. Again, only 39242 is the legitimate number the Census Bureau is using to reach folks chosen to participate in the Household Pulse Survey, which will be ongoing through October 26.

More information about the survey can be found here:

https://www.census.gov/data/experimental-data-products/household-pulse-survey.html

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Unsolicited Text From U.S. Census Bureau Has Link To COVID Survey: Is It Legit?