Why NOT fill out your Census form?

I’ve heard a lot of complaining about filling out the Census forms, and I can’t quite get a handle on why people wouldn’t want to turn in this information.

The Census form includes several explainers in the paperwork quoting a federal law and reassure people that their information will not be turned over to the IRS or any form of law enforcement. So I guess people are worried about being turned over the IRS or immigration or some other law enforcement agency.

I’m not sure how realistic that fear is if there is a federal law stating they can’t share that information with any other agency.

From the U.S. Census Web site:

Protecting your information

Federal law protects your information, and we have developed policies and statistical safeguards to help us follow the law and further ensure the confidentiality of your information. 1

“Your Information Is
CONFIDENTIAL
We never identify you individually.

1. Federal Law

Title 13 of the U.S. Code protects the confidentiality of all your information. Violating this law is a crime with severe penalties.

2. Privacy Principles

Our Privacy Principles are guidelines that cover all of our activities. These principles encompass both our responsibilities to protect your information and your rights as a respondent. They apply to the information we collect and the statistics we publish.

3. Statistical Safeguards

Statistical methods ensure that the statistics we release do not identify individuals or businesses. These methods include extensive review and analysis of all our data products, as well as disclosure avoidance methodologies such as data suppression and modification.

We recognize the value of your trust, and we believe that when you answer our surveys we must serve as caretakers of your information. If you would like to learn more about how we fulfill this responsibility, please visit our data stewardship pages.”

They do warn not to give out your Social Security number to anyone saying they are a Census worker and also warn about other scams. From the U.S.  Census Web site:

“Phishing:

‘Phishing’ is the criminally fraudulent process of attempting to acquire sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, social security numbers, bank account or credit card details by masquerading as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication. Phishing is typically carried out by email and it often directs users to enter sensitive information at a fake web site whose look and feel are almost identical to the legitimate one.

Other Scams:

  • The Census Bureau does NOT conduct the 2010 Census via the Internet
  • The Census Bureau does not send emails about participating in the 2010 Census
  • The Census Bureau never:
    • Asks for your full social security number
    • Asks for money or a donation
    • Sends requests on behalf of a political party
    • Requests PIN codes, passwords or similar access information for credit cards, banks or other financial accounts.

How to report scams and bogus Census web sites

If you believe you have been contacted as part of bogus or fraudulent activity falsely representing the Census Bureau:

  • In Person Scam
    • Check for a valid Census ID badge
    • Call your regional office to verify you are in a survey
  • Email Scams
    • If you think it is a bogus email, do not reply or click on any links within the email.
    • Do not open any attachments. Attachments may contain code that could infect your computer
    • Forward the email or web site URL to the Census Bureau at ITSO.Fraud.Reporting@census.gov.
    • After you forward the email to us, delete the message. You will not receive a confirmation email after forwarding the information to us. However, the Census Bureau will investigate the information and notify you of its findings.
  • Mail Scams
  • Contact the United States Postal Inspection Service

I personally think it’s cool to have a snapshot of our country at this point it time. You can look book at the Census reports through our history and see how our country has developed and changed. Plus don’t you want the correct number of representatives and services geared toward your community’s needs?

I filled out our family’s Census forms last night and will be popping it in the mail today. It wasn’t painful and took about five minutes. Our biggest discussion was what to list Michael’s and the children’s race as. (I usually fill in mixed for the kids at school but that wasn’t a choice. But you can mark more than one race so that’s what we did. )

So will you be filling out your Census forms? What is the worry or concern in doing so? What am I missing here?

113 comments Add your comment

lmno

March 22nd, 2010
11:58 am

I suppose that there is just such distrust for the government. Its crazy.

I filled it out. All it asked me was how many people live in the house, how old we are, and what is our ethnicity. I didn’t feel violated by those questions.

My own mother was telling me how the census was going to ask all these personal questions and how i was supposed to not fill it out. Something about the constitution.

It just goes to show you that people are easily duped by emails.

I probably get three emails a day about political matters that are out right lies and people just spread them around.

DB

March 22nd, 2010
12:00 pm

Of course I will be filling out the form. This is the shortest census form I’ve ever seen — I remember one that my parents got back in 1970 — omigod, that thing was 12-16 pages, and asked all sorts of information such as how many bedrooms your house had, how many bathrooms, educational level of residents, etc., etc.

As an amateur genealogist, I have to admit, I find census forms fascinating. After 70 years, the files are opened. From a family history standpoint, it’s interesting to see who lived with who, the growth of families, moving, etc., from decade to decade. Forms early in the 20th century included occupation, parents’ birthplace, how long a couple had been married, etc., etc. I was frankly incredulous at how skimpy this year’s census form was!

No problems with filling it out — good grief, they aren’t asking anything that anyone on the internet couldn’t figure out in two minutes.

Yuck

March 22nd, 2010
12:18 pm

I am going to lie on it

Sorry, DB, but the 2010 form I received...

March 22nd, 2010
12:18 pm

…DID ask those questions – so I will be telling how many people live in my house (after all, that is what the census is for, counting the population for equitable distribution purposes) and THAT IS THE LAST QUESTION I WILL ANSWER.

Andrea

March 22nd, 2010
12:23 pm

Is it possible that there are different forms? If so, how is it determined who gets what? I am just curious. I received mine and it is more detailed that the one my sister got. I am going to complete it though.

lmno

March 22nd, 2010
12:26 pm

Sorry, DB…

Didn’t we all get the same census?

What question specifically on the form do you not want to answer?

BTW, it took me less than three minutes to fill my form out, put it back in the envelope and seal it.

Big Brother is watching...

March 22nd, 2010
12:27 pm

…and he knows if you’ve been bad or good…

lmno

March 22nd, 2010
12:29 pm

Here are the 10 questions:

1. How many people live in the house?
2. How many additional people are currently staying in the house?
3. I this a house, apartment, or mobile home?
4. What is your telephone number?
5. What are your names?
6. What is your sex?
7. Age and Date of Birth?
8. Are you hispanic?
9. What is your race?
10. Do you live somewhere else sometimes?

And the $556billion...

March 22nd, 2010
12:31 pm

…the House added to the deficit yesterday will have to apportioned somehow…and I hope you Obamanites enjoy paying higher taxes for the next 4 years on that Obamacare plan that does not kick in until the 5th year after the deal begins in 2010 or 2011 – that’s right, you pay the taxes but the alleged healthcare benefits do not start until 2014 or 2015….

Hey, lmno...

March 22nd, 2010
12:32 pm

…do you really think the illegals are going to answer question #2? LOL

1sus

March 22nd, 2010
12:36 pm

As someone else has mentioned, I have been interested reading ol census information on family members in prior generations and would want my information there for future generations. Also, by not filling it out, people are only hurting themselves with how taxpayer money is later spent on your communities!

Hey, 1sus...

March 22nd, 2010
12:39 pm

…how is information other than how many are living in a household “helping” how taxpayer money is later spent?

lmno

March 22nd, 2010
12:39 pm

“Hey, lmno…

March 22nd, 2010
12:32 pm
…do you really think the illegals are going to answer question #2?

I wouldn’t imagine that they would fill it out at all.

But this is about why would YOU not fill it out.

It is a dumb question...

March 22nd, 2010
12:50 pm

…”how many live in your house”, then, how many more “stay” in your house? No wonder some dialects say they “stay” somewhere rather than they “live” somewhere; I always wondered how that verbiage originated, and now I know, right from the census form!

Becky

March 22nd, 2010
12:51 pm

@Imno..That is the same form that I filled out..I had heard that some people were sent a different form, but not sure why..

DB

March 22nd, 2010
1:12 pm

@lmno — I said I DIDN’T have a problem filling out the census. The one I was describing was from 1970.

Curious though, about college kids — technically, as dependents, their residence is with you, but they are simply boarding somewhere else temporarily. But my daughter told me that, in a dorm at her college, they all got census forms, too. Seems a little wacked — the vast majority of those kids aren’t “residents” and shouldn’t be counted in terms of congressional representation, to my way of thinking. Maybe they count them differently . . . ?

One of these days, I’ll tell you a funny story about the 1980 census . . . :-)

MOM3

March 22nd, 2010
1:15 pm

I filled mine out – and it didn’t take long. I just want to know what difference my ethnicity makes. Why do they ask that question? This is supposed to be about having enough infrastructure/services for the current/future population. Why would my ethinicity matter?

A

March 22nd, 2010
1:15 pm

@Imno, isn’t the Census required by the US Constitution? Maybe you can tell your mom that.

guy

March 22nd, 2010
1:15 pm

most people get the short version since they are more likely to actually fill it out and the gov can get a better idea of the total population. a smaller # of more involved forms are also sent out in order to get more info for a better snapshot of the country.

EXACTLY...

March 22nd, 2010
1:16 pm

…MOM3!?!?!?!?

DB

March 22nd, 2010
1:16 pm

@MOM3 – perhaps to figure out how many Spanish-language signs they are going to need in the future? :-)

KAW

March 22nd, 2010
1:18 pm

Why do they want to know my kids birthday? Why did they ask a separate question about being Hispanic. It should have been included in question #9.

guy

March 22nd, 2010
1:19 pm

DB. college kids are of voting age and would most likely vote where they live/go to school and not in the their parents district, hence they should be counted in the district even though they are still dependents of the parents.

fred

March 22nd, 2010
1:20 pm

there are 2 forms. the short form and the detailed form. the short form is the shortest in Census history at about 10 questions and 2 minutes long (although the official census website says it will take about 10 minutes to fill out, I guess they also think we are idiots). The long form on the other hand was mailed out to about 2.5% of households and about 70 questions. A judge can fine you up to $5000 (i think if you do not fill them out). I have no problem with filling out the short form, but I do think that the long form questions are too intrusive. I had to fill one out (and I did) the last census time around. I would not be happy to be asked to do so again. I do not have anything to hide however asking me very personal questions is out of the governments sphere of relevance IMHO.

ASD

March 22nd, 2010
1:21 pm

Okay, so the Census is meant to count the number of individuals. If this is the case, why does “race” matter? Why does gender mater? Why does the type of dwelling matter? If we are ALL supposed to be “equal” then count the number of individuals and leave it at that. Can someone provide the reason(s) for the questions regarding race, gender, etc.?

guy

March 22nd, 2010
1:25 pm

ASD: purely for statistical information to see how the population changes over time.

and so the right wingers have stats about how many scary brown people there are out there so they can scare/shame people into breeding more good ol white folk, like the good lord intended…

I do not think...

March 22nd, 2010
1:25 pm

…you can be fined by anyone for not filling out the form…if you do not return the form addressed to the “Residents at” such and such address, they just send out a PERSON taker to talk to you to get whatever info you may provide.

And, most college student DO NOT vote in the area where they go to school, unless they register to vote there – you have to have a voter registration card and most still have the one that has their parents address as their permanent address. Especially if they are out of state…

guy

March 22nd, 2010
1:31 pm

i dont know about the college student thing. they seem to have big voter drives on campuses to get students registered and such, and the university is usually a polling place as well. it makes more sense to get students registered and voting in their school’s district, since most students arent going to travel back to their parents house on a random tuesday just to vote.

lmno

March 22nd, 2010
1:35 pm

I know you said you would DB. I was addressing the person that called themselves “SOrry, DB….”

Van Jones

March 22nd, 2010
1:41 pm

Let’s get this straight… the census will determine how much or OUR OWN money we will get back from the federal govt. We should be funding national security rather than bankrolling a senator’s pet project in his home state!

I just don’t like it when they ax me where I stay.

Lori

March 22nd, 2010
1:49 pm

What the $#@& is wrong with people. Just fill the darn thing out. What’s wrong with the government knowing exactly how many people live in our country??? Some people are just so stupid and paranoid about “big brother” or whatever invading their privacy. Get over it. Those same paranoid maniacs probably walk around with the latest GPS enabled phone. Hello, the government could know where you are every second of every day, so who cares if they know you are a white male who lives in a house with 3 other people!!!

Lori

March 22nd, 2010
1:51 pm

Van Jones – “I just don’t like it when they ax me where I stay.”

That was a joke, right? Please tell me you really don’t think that’s how that sentence should read!

Geez, Lori...

March 22nd, 2010
1:52 pm

…if they already know, why ask?

Actually, Lori...

March 22nd, 2010
1:55 pm

…that is EXACTLY how some people ASK that question…

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

March 22nd, 2010
2:03 pm

I don’t think it’s a big deal at all to complete the survey, after all when I filled out my grocery store’s savings card, I’m pretty sure I gave them my name and address…not much more than I gave the sensus and along with that info, I gave them the ability to track every purchase that I’ve made there for the last decade. I’m pretty sure that those “random” coupons that get spit out at me for my usual brand’s competitor’s product is not just a coincidence. In addition, I gave my bank and credit card company a great deal more information than the census, and the fact that marketing companies will have access to that info is pretty much implied. Maybe it’s just me, but even in this day and age, I still don’t think the government is a bigger boogey man than a bank and/or marketing firm.

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

March 22nd, 2010
2:05 pm

@becky….I bet if you have a grocery club card, they are tracking your “girl crush list” based upon the checkout aisle mags you buy!

Becky

March 22nd, 2010
2:19 pm

@Tiger..I do have a grocery club card, haven’t thought of that..They won’t find out much, ’cause I don’t buy magazines or books at the grocery store..The only books that I buy are from yard sales and thrift stores..I refuse to pay $10-20 for a book..

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

March 22nd, 2010
2:24 pm

@becky….a perfectly interesting list scuttled by your frugal nature!

Lori

March 22nd, 2010
2:39 pm

Yes, I know some people ASK the question that way, but I thought they just could not speak properly. I didn’t realize that those people where also too stupid to spell ASK instead of AX.

Well, Lori...

March 22nd, 2010
2:51 pm

…now you know…and I always thought you spelled it “acks” as in “let me acks you a question about where you stay…

Lori

March 22nd, 2010
2:52 pm

To ASD… As long as people continue to play the race card and claim to be part of a minority group, then race matters in the census. How else will they know what is the true minority race, which will eventually change! I would think gender would matter too for predicting future growth, as only women can reproduce.

irisheyes

March 22nd, 2010
2:55 pm

“Why do they want to know my kids birthday?”

The info is used to project enrollment for schools.

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

March 22nd, 2010
3:00 pm

@Robert Crumb….well of course nothing is as important in France as being able to say “we surrender” ;-)

jojo

March 22nd, 2010
3:12 pm

not filling it out ….none of your business…

JATL

March 22nd, 2010
3:20 pm

Why wouldn’t you fill it out? You’re just kicking yourself, your kids and your communities in the rear. The census is used to help different agencies decide where to build new schools and offer certain programs. If you’re on the internet right now, anyone INCLUDING the government can find out lots of info about you -this is just easier and more legal!

Sorry, folks...

March 22nd, 2010
3:33 pm

…but the “school enrollment projection” does not fly – just ask the parents of the kids in elementary schools how many other kids they have coming along for that – plus, with Dekalb County and others CLOSING as many as 4 – 12 schools, that really makes this suggestion somewhat ludicrous.

I can understand the need for a “population count”; however, the rest is just superfluous crap that is not totally necessary.

And, as someone said earlier, if the info is already online, why not just use that?

TechMom

March 22nd, 2010
4:02 pm

I don’t understand the big brother fear either. Quite frankly if the governement ever spent money integrating the right systems, they would know all of this info without mailing a single form out. As much as we don’t want the government to cross reference with the IRS, all that info is accessible by the governement so why not use it as a cross reference with the postal services databases of all the addresses in existence and then ONLY survey those who didn’t file taxes?

Further, if we can e-file our taxes, why not allow an e-file of the census form so they can just follow up via mail and in person with those who don’t respond? Oh I forget, it’s so we can help keep our postal workers employed!

Jeff

March 22nd, 2010
4:08 pm

I get tired of putting forth effort to help the government when they seem to never return the effort for my issues.

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

March 22nd, 2010
4:17 pm

@Jeff….that leads to an interesting question.

Who is responsible for a country full of apathy?

Are the people’s apathy (we haven’t had greater than 57% presidential and 47% congressional voter turnout since 1968) to blame for the government not representing them because we don’t collectively hold them accountable…or is the government representatives fault for convincing the public that their votes don’t matter that is responsible for the citizen’s apathy?

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

March 22nd, 2010
4:18 pm