Census FAQs

  • Why does the Census Bureau ask the questions they do?

The Census Bureau asks the questions they do on the surveys because of federal needs and for community benefits. The information the Census Bureau collects helps determine how more than $400 billion dollars of federal funding annually is spent on infrastructure and services. Your answers help federal, state and local leaders make decisions about: schools, hospitals, emergency services, roads, bridges, job training centers, and many other projects that affect your community. 

  • I thought that the census was only 10 minutes, 10 questions. Why might I also be getting something called the American Community Survey?

Launched in 2005, the American Community Survey (ACS) is part of the decennial census program and is essentially what used to be the Census long form. It collects more detailed information on housing, population, and the economy. ACS data are collected continuously throughout the year and throughout the decade from a sample (fraction) of the population (about 3 million addresses annually). 

As of now, we estimate approximately 250,000 households will receive both the ACS and the 2020 Census form. 

Like the 2020 Census participation in the ACS is mandatory by law and the American public’s participation is vital to provide data that impacts policy decisions on the local, state, and federal level.

  •  Are my answers safe and secure?

The Census Bureau collects data for statistical purposes only. They combine your responses with information from other households or businesses to produce statistics, which never identify your household, any person in your household, or business. Your information is CONFIDENTIAL. They never identify you individually.

Title 13 of the U.S. Code protects the confidentiality of all your information and violating this law is a crime with severe penalties. In addition, other federal laws, including the Confidential Statistical Efficiency Act and the Privacy Act reinforce these protections. The penalty for unlawful disclosure is a fine of up to $250,000 or imprisonment of up to 5 years, or both.

It is against the law to disclose or publish any of the following information: 

    • Names 
    • Addresses including GPS coordinates 
    • Social Security numbers 
    • Telephone numbers
  •  How does the U.S. Census Bureau help me identify fraudulent activity and scams?

The Census Bureau will never ask for:

    • full social security number
    • money or donations
    • anything on behalf of a political party
    • your full bank or credit card account numbers

If you are visited by someone from the United States Census Bureau, here are some RECOGNITION TIPS to assure the validity of the field representative;

    • Must present an ID Badge which contains: photograph of field representative, Department of Commerce watermark, and expiration date.
    • Will provide you with supervisor contact information and/or the regional office phone number for verification, if asked.
    • Will provide you with a letter from the Director of the Census Bureau on U.S. Census Bureau letterhead.
    • May be carrying a laptop and/or bag with a Census Bureau logo.
  •  What if I am away from my residence on April 1, 2020?

People away from their usual residence on Census Day, such as on a vacation or a business trip, visiting, traveling outside the U.S., or working elsewhere without a usual residence there (for example, as a truck driver or traveling salesperson) are counted at the residence where they live and sleep most of the time.