The Census Bureau is required by law to protect all individual responses. Information can only be shared as area-wide statistical data, and only from areas large enough that one cannot guess at any individual’s responses within that area.
By law, census responses cannot be used against any individual; by any government agency or court in any way. Not by the FBI, CIA, DHS, or ICE. These organizations cannot even access raw data.
Under Title 13 of the U.S. Code, any Census Bureau employee who releases any identifiable information about any individual, household, or business faces a penalty of up to $250,000 and/or five years in prison.
The only exception this is that after 72 years, Title 44 of the U.S. Code allows the National Archives and Records Administration to release 72-year-old census records for historical research. Any response to the 2020 Census will remain completely confidential until 2092.
The 2020 Census and Confidentiality
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The 2020 Census is a complete count of every person living in the United States as of April 1, 2020. Every dwelling unit in the nation will be asked to respond online, by phone or by mail to the United States Census.
In March 2020, most households will receive a letter in the mail asking them to go online and fill out the 2020 Census at www.my2020Census.gov . Some households will receive paper surveys as well, but you can respond either online, by phone in one of thirteen languages, or by paper.
There are also 59 language guides to assist respondents who have trouble with English.
After this initial postcard, you will receive a reminder postcard, and perhaps even a third postcard with a further reminder.
If you have not responded by April 1, 2020 after receiving the initial invitation to participate online and two reminder postcards, you will be sent a paper copy of the survey. If you have not responded either online or by mail by May 1, 2020, a Census worker (called an enumerator) will be sent to your residence to verify whether anyone is living at that site and to help you fill out your survey. Online response continues to be available up to October 31, 2020 as part of an extended campaign.
During the 2010 Census, enumerators would visit a non-responsive address as many as six times in their attempts to reach the residents.
Responding to the initial invitation to fill our your Census forms online saves time and money and ensures that you and your household are counted!
No Longer Included:
The U.S. Census Bureau also conducts an annual American Community Survey. This survey has additional questions about nation of origin, citizenship, income, languages spoken, employment and one's residence. About 3.5 million people receive this lengthy survey every year. It has been in use nationwide since 2005, and it takes the place of the Census "long form" that was sent to a sample of households (usually 1 in 6 households) between 1940 and 2000.
The U.S. Census Bureau will never ask for credit card numbers, drivers license numbers, social security numbers or other specific financial information.
You will receive a postcard or survey in the mail. After April 2020, you might receive a visit from a Census Enumerator with proper identification if you have not yet responded to the Census.
Other means of contact are likely to be fraudulent. If you are unsure whether a survey is legitimate, contact the U.S. Census Bureau.
Beginning in June of 2020, there will be many Census "Enumerators" knocking on the doors of residences that did not respond to the 2020 Census in March or early April.
There are several ways to verify that a person actually works for the Census Bureau:
The 2020 Census has created a series of fifty language guides to assist people who may struggle with written English.
The online survey itself is available in thirteen languages that cover 95% of households in the United States.
There are also thirteen telephone response lines, serving each of these languages.
There are some rumors floating around about the 2020 Census. Some are true, some are based on partial or misunderstood information, others may be completely false.
The 2020 Census has created a "Fighting Rumors" website to help sort through things one might hear, but which aren’t addressed in other publications.