Be counted! The importance of the 2020 Census

Posted on 02/12/20 by Steve Hahn

Excerpts from information provided by 2020Census.gov

With our state's Congressional representation and hundreds of billions of dollars in crucial federal funding at stake, AARP encourages everyone in North Carolina to be counted in the 2020 Census.

What Is the 2020 Census?
The 2020 Census counts every person living in the 50 states, District of Columbia, and five U.S. territories.

United States 2020 census form

Who Is Required To Respond?
Everyone living in the 50 states, District of Columbia, and five U.S. territories (Puerto Rico, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands) is required by law to be counted in the 2020 Census.

Importance of the Data
The 2020 Census will determine congressional representation, inform hundreds of billions in federal funding, and provide data that will impact communities for the next decade.

Impact in Your Community
School lunches. Plans for highways. Support for firefighters and families in need. Census results affect your community every day.

AARP reports that the stakes are high. In 2016, for example, more than 300 federally funded programs relied on census data to distribute more than $675 billion to states and localities. That includes funds for schools, roads and hospitals and also programs that aid older Americans, like Medicare Part B.

“Participating in the census means getting counted to determine how much federal funding comes into your community and how congressional representation is determined,” said AARP National Volunteer President Catherine Alicia Georges in an article on www.aarp.org. “AARP members need to make sure they are not left out of this very important process.”

Important Dates
In mid-March, homes across the country will begin receiving invitations to complete the 2020 Census. Once the invitation arrives, you should respond for your home in one of three ways: online, by phone, or by mail.

How the Census Bureau Protects Your Data
The U.S. Census Bureau is bound by law to protect your answers and keep them strictly confidential. In fact, every employee takes an oath to protect your personal information for life.

Legal Duty to Protect Your Information
The Census Bureau is bound by Title 13 of the U.S. Code to keep your information confidential.

Under Title 13, the Census Bureau cannot release any identifiable information about you, your home, or your business, even to law enforcement agencies. The law ensures that your private data is protected and that your answers cannot be used against you by any government agency or court.

The answers you provide are used only to produce statistics. You are kept anonymous: The Census Bureau is not permitted to publicly release your responses in any way that could identify you or anyone else in your home.

Data Protection and Privacy Program
Being responsible stewards of your data is not only required by law, it is embedded in Census Bureau culture. Strict policies and statistical safeguards help protect the confidentiality of your information. Before releasing data products, the Census Bureau verifies that they meet its confidentiality standards.

Secure Technology
From the beginning of the data collection process, the Census Bureau follows industry best practices and federal requirements to protect your data.

The security of Census Bureau systems is a top priority, and our IT infrastructure is designed to defend against and contain cyberthreats. We continually refine our approach to identifying, preventing, detecting, and responding to these threats.

Avoiding Fraud and Scams

The U.S. Census Bureau is committed to making the 2020 Census quick, easy, and safe for all participants. Here are some tips to help you stay safe.

Avoiding Scams Online
Phishing is a criminal act in which someone tries to get your information by pretending to be an entity that you trust. Phishing emails often direct you to a website that looks real but is fake—and may be infected with malware.

It is important to know that the Census Bureau will not send unsolicited emails to request your participation in the 2020 Census. Further, during the 2020 Census, the Census Bureau will never ask for:

  • Your Social Security number.
  • Your bank account or credit card numbers.
  • Money or donations.

In addition, the Census Bureau will not contact you on behalf of a political party.
Staying Safe at Home
If someone visits your home to collect a response for the 2020 Census, you can do the following to verify their identity:

First, check to make sure that they have a valid ID badge, with their photograph, a U.S. Department of Commerce watermark, and an expiration date.

If you still have questions about their identity, you can call 800-923-8282 to speak with a local Census Bureau representative.

Reporting Suspected Fraud
If you suspect fraud, call 800-923-8282 to speak with a local Census Bureau representative. If it is determined that the visitor who came to your door does not work for the Census Bureau, contact your local police department.

This story is provided by AARP North Carolina. Visit the AARP North Carolina page for more news, events, and programs affecting retirement, health care, and more.

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You can find CDC’s latest coronavirus information at cdc.gov/coronavirus; AARP information and resources are at aarp.org/coronavirus. En español, visite aarp.org/elcoronavirus.

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