The U.S. Census Bureau is committed to making the 2020 census quick, easy and safe for all participants. As the counting begins this month, here are some tips to help you stay safe.
Between March 12 and March 20, invitations to participate in the 2020 census will start arriving in households across the country. The invitation will include instructions on how to respond to the 2020 census online or by phone. By April 1, most households will have received an invitation by mail or delivered by a census taker.
If a household does not respond to any of the invitations, a census taker will follow up in person between May 13 and July 31.
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:
- Check to make sure 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, call 800-923-8282 to speak with a local Census Bureau representative.
Bureau Has Legal Duty to Protect Your Information
The Census Bureau is bound by Title 13 of the U.S. Code to keep your information confidential and every U.S. Census Bureau employee takes an oath to protect your personal information for life.
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.
What Questions WILL NOT be Asked by the Census Bureau?
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 (software intentionally designed to cause damage to a computer, server, client or computer network).
It is important to know the Census Bureau will not send unsolicited emails to request your participation in the 2020 census. In addition, the Census Bureau will never ask you for:
- Your Social Security number
- Money or donations
- Anything on behalf of a political party
- Your bank or credit card account numbers
If someone claiming to be from the Census Bureau contacts you via email or phone and asks you for one of these things, it’s a scam, and you should not cooperate.
Data Protection and Privacy Program
The Census Bureau’s information technology infrastructure is designed to defend against and contain cyberthreats. The bureau says it continuously refines its approach to identifying, preventing, detecting and responding to threats.
“The Census Bureau has successfully tested its data collection systems, has built backup systems to support resilient operations, and is ready to receive responses from all around the country,” said Census Bureau Director Steven Dillingham, Ph.D.
“The 2020 Census is on mission, on schedule and on budget to promote an accurate count,” Dillingham added. “Response is important because statistics from the census are used in distributing hundreds of billions in funding for school lunches, hospitals, roads and much more. … Your response will impact communities for the next decade.”