In yet another lesson in why it’s important to read your mail very carefully during a political election year, residents in Indiana are reportedly receiving mailers urging them to complete a “Congressional District Census” and to return the document with a $15 processing fee.
The document, however, isn’t an official government attempt to get people to participate in the Census. Rather, it’s a misleading letter from the Republican Party — and that $15 fee is actually a political donation.
The mailer reads “Do not destroy” and “Official document,” but upon closer inspection details in the letter reveal that it is not a Census document but rather a political call to action, NBC affiliate WTHR reported. Still, critics allege that it’s a highly misleading mailer, and that the party’s intent is to confuse people into sending them money.
The letter tells voters the questionnaire is due by February 24, and encourages the recipient to “act today” to ensure their answers are received. The questions inside the document ask about recipients’ political viewpoints, including how they feel about President Donald Trump.
So I got one of these Fake Census things the GOP is mailing out. See if you can spot the mild bias in the questions… pic.twitter.com/vCoYYqupyP
— Bree (half of @kitrocha) (@mostlybree) January 31, 2020
The tactic is not technically illegal, though it is something that consumer interest groups have warned about.
The Better Business Bureau has issued a number of warnings about the Census overall, including the fact that political groups will sometimes use a document disguised as Census paperwork in order to trick people.
“Census takers will never contact you on behalf of a political party,” the BBB warns on its website.
The organization adds that “Census takers will never ask” for certain types of identification, including social security numbers, and it will not require “money or donations” from individuals participating in the decennial event.