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Census 2020

Jan 3, 2020

The 2020 decennial census is coming. Article 1, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution mandates that a full count of the population be performed every ten years, and the country has done this every ten years since 1790.  Census packets will be mailed in March and the official count date is April 1, 2020. 

The census is critical for Massachusetts and for each community in the Commonwealth.  Information gained from the census will be used to determine federal representation in the House of Representatives and state level representation for each community.  Communities with a low census response rate may lose much needed representation at the state and federal levels. 

For the older community, census data will be used by Congress to make decisions on funding for the Older Americans Act and other legislation that directly impacts seniors.  Local Councils on Aging will have materials to assist seniors in completing their census survey. Acknowledging that many households do not speak and/or read English, Census materials will be available in up to 59 languages, including American Sign Language, braille and large print.

As important as the census is, it also opens a new door for scammers to steal from us. The U.S. Census Bureau website has a page dedicated to scams and how to avoid them (https://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/surveyhelp/fraudulent-activity-and-scams.html).

The Census Bureau will never ask for:

  • your full Social Security number
  • money or donations
  • anything on behalf of a political party
  • your full bank or credit card account numbers
  • your mother’s maiden name

As the census data collection occurs, if you suspect fraudulent activity, please do the following

  • If you get mail:
    • Check that the return address is Jeffersonville, Indiana
    • If you continue to question the authenticity of the letter or form, call the Census Regional Office (212-584-3400, 800-991-2520, TTY: 212-478-4793) to verify the household survey. 
  • If someone calls your household to complete a survey:
    • Call the National Processing Center (800-523-3205, TTY: 800-877-8339) to verify the caller is a Census Bureau employee. You can also look up the person on the www.census.gov website to confirm their legitimacy.
  • If someone visits your residence to complete a survey:
    • Check first for a valid U.S. Census Bureau ID badge. Official badges will have the worker’s photograph, a U.S. Department of Commerce watermark, and an expiration date.
    • If you are still unsure, call the Census Regional Office (212-584-3400, 800-991-2520, TTY: 212-478-4793) to verify this is a legitimate survey and the visitor is a Census Bureau employee. You can also look up the person on the www.census.gov website to confirm their legitimacy.
  • If you get an e-mail and think it is bogus:
    • Do not reply, do not click on any links, and do not open any attachments
    • Forward the e-mail to the Census Bureau at ois.fraud.reporting@census.gov
    • Delete the message.  The Census Bureau will investigate and notify you of the findings.

It’s important to know the phone numbers above.  A scammer may offer you a phone number to verify their legitimacy.  Never trust a phone number given to you by an unknown caller and/or visitor.  Census workers should not hesitate to give you the time to confirm their identity.

Some people are concerned that information given for the census will be used against them.  Under Title 13 of the U.S. Code, the Census Bureau cannot release any identifiable information about individuals, households, or businesses, even to law enforcement agencies.  Title 13 states that the information collected may only be used for statistical purposes and no other purpose. All Census Bureau staff take a lifetime oath to protect our personal information. Any violation of this oath comes with a penalty of up to $250,000 and/or up to five years in prison.

To support historical research, Title 44 of the U.S. Code allows the National Archives and Records Administration to release census records only after 72 years.

The Census is important. Make sure you participate and be counted!