The 2020 census is off and running. The U.S. Census Bureau began mailing out notices last week. For the bureau, the once-a-decade head count is akin to running a sprint and marathon at the same time. It takes awhile, but there’s plenty of action throughout.

The 2020 census is the first in which most people are being encouraged to answer the questions online, though people can still answer the questionnaire by telephone or by mailing back a paper form if they prefer.

And, of course, with the census comes the risk of running into cheaters who are ready to swindle anyone they can sucker.

The rush of imposter scams — where crooks make demands by pretending to represent everyone from the Internal Revenue Service to the Social Security Administration — has consumer watchdogs concerned that fraudsters will play up some phony U.S. Census connection to steal money or identification information.

Criminals who run sophisticated scams are “out there looking for current events to tap into,” explained Kathy Stokes, director of fraud prevention programs at the AARP. “If you get an email from the Census Bureau with a link to the questionnaire,” she said, “that’s a scam.”

Stokes has already seen evidence that con artists are ready to show up to work. A phony postcard that appeared to be from the U.S. Census Bureau is floating around, she said, and it includes a scannable or code that could lead to installing malware on your phone, according to the Detroit Free Press.

The Free Press noted the U.S. Census Bureau will never ask for your Social Security number, bank account or credit numbers, some sort of fee to get a form, or anything on behalf of a political party. The 2020 Census will not ask citizenship status.

Nearly half of U.S. adults have been targets of an imposter scam, according to a new survey by AARP Research. And nearly one in five ended up experiencing health problems or emotional distress from being victimized or targeted.

Most adults aren’t really thinking about how the 2020 census could be used as a cover to help fraudsters demand money, or trick people into handing over their Social Security numbers.

The warning signs regarding crooks and their methods of operation have been issued publicly. It’s up to people to be on the alert for suspicious questions or demands.

We can’t emphasize enough for importance of the 2020 U.S. Census. The census comes around only once every ten years. We shouldn’t allow the risk of fraudsters stopping us from doing our duty as citizens when it comes to responding to the questions posed by the U.S. Census Bureau.