U.S. Census Bureau preps for count; tips for what to expect and what to watch out for

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COLUMBUS (WCMH) — It’s one of the most important surveys you can fill out living in America.

Every 10 years, a count is taken of the population of the United States.

Every man, woman, and child is counted, the results of which impact life in a multitude of ways.​

From a financial standpoint, $675 billion in federal funding is based on this population count and it’s used to divvy up how big a slice of that pie each state gets.​

This money is used for roads, hospitals, nutrition assistance programs just to name a few things.​

The count also determines representation at the federal level as the population of states is what congressional seats are based on.

​Within the state, the population will also determine where legislative districts are drawn at both the state and federal levels.​

Finally, businesses use the count and the demographics it provides to make decisions on where to open businesses and which communities to invest in.​

The census is at the heart of so many decisions that affect your life, and that is why it is constitutionally mandated that it occurs and that every person is counted.​

To that end, the census is not a count of the number of Americans in the United States. It is a count of the number of people, regardless of citizenship status.​

This year, as in years past, the form will not ask any questions about your country of citizenship.​

Further, by law, any answers to questions given on the form are confidential and cannot be shared with anyone.​

In order to be counted, the head of the household will need to fill out a form.​

The first chance to do this will be after an invitation is received in the mail.

Each household will receive an invitation and each will have a unique code that will be used to access the form online.​

This year will be the first year you can fill out the form online.​

That invitation is supposed to arrive sometime between March 12-20. ​

You’ll get a reminder letter in the mail sometime between March 16-24, and if you don’t fill out your form online, call in and report by phone, or send the form back by mail, you will receive a reminder postcard sometime between March 26-April 3.​

Another reminder letter and a paper form will be sent to you between April 8-16, if you still don’t respond; and a final postcard reminder will be sent between April 20-27.​

If after all of that, you still haven’t filled out the form, the Census Bureau will come to see you in person to get the answers themselves at your home in May. ​

The Census Bureau will attempt to contact you six times before they take further steps to locate you.​

In order to protect yourself from scammers, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • The Census Bureau will never contact you with an unsolicited email
  • The bureau will never ask for your social security number
  • The bureau will never ask you for your bank account or credit card account information
  • The bureau will never ask you to pay for anything

​If someone shows up at your door, you should ask to see identification. Valid ID will have their picture, a special watermark, and expiration date. You will also be able to call 1-800-923-8282 to check if the person standing at your door is really who they say they are and works for the Census Bureau.​

If you know you have already filled out the form online, by phone, or through the mail, you should call the police immediately if someone claiming to be from the Census Bureau shows up at your door, according to Carol Hector-Harris, with the agency.​

Finally, the Census Bureau is looking for help filling positions to help with the count.

​Hector-Harris said schedules are flexible and can accommodate people who already work full or part-time jobs.

The jobs that may be available are not all fieldwork, either, with several jobs that do not require walking or driving, which Hector-Harris said is great for seniors.​

She also said anyone interested in a position should fill out an application now and as jobs become available, the bureau will have it on hand.​

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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