The 2010 U.S. Census will count all U.S. residents, citizens and non-citizens alike. In March 2010, census forms will be delivered to every residence in the United States, and all respondents need to fill in the form to account for everyone living at that address as of April 1, 2010. The form will include a prepaid envelope so you can mail it back as soon as possible.
The 2010 Census will be one of the shortest and simplest in U.S. history. It requires less personal information than a typical credit card application. It will ask just 10 basic questions.
Why is information like this important? In addition to determining Ohio's representation in the U.S. House of Representatives over the next decade, many federal programs that provide services to Ohio's seniors, including home delivered meals, long-term care ombudsman programs and senior employment programs, use census data to determine how much funding Ohio will receive. It is vital that we have an accurate count of our residents to ensure we can continue to meet the needs of our seniors.
If you do not complete and return your census form, you can expect a knock on your door in May or June. U.S. Census Bureau employees will visit residences that do not return a form. The best way to protect your personal information and privacy is to complete your census form and return it promptly.
The first phase of the 2010 U.S. Census is under way as Census workers verify the addresses of households across the country. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) advises people to be cooperative, but cautious, so as not to become a victim of fraud or identity theft. How can you tell the difference between a U.S. Census worker and a con artist? The BBB offers the following advice:
If a U.S. Census worker knocks on your door, they will have a badge, a handheld device, a Census Bureau canvas bag and a confidentiality notice. Ask to see their identification and their badge before answering their questions. However, you should never invite anyone you do not know into your home.
Census workers currently are knocking on doors to verify address information only.
The Census Bureau will not contact you by e-mail. Never click on a link or open any attachments in an e-mail that claims to be from the Census Bureau.
While the Census might ask for basic financial information, such as a salary range, the Census Bureau will never ask for Social Security, bank account or credit card numbers, nor will employees solicit donations.
Any personal data collected is kept confidential. By law, the Census Bureau cannot share personally identifiable information with anyone or any other government agency. Penalties for any employee who shares that information are severe - up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
If you have more than one residence, you will receive Census forms at all addresses. Snowbirds, Ohioans who spend part of the year in another state, should list their Ohio residence as their permanent household if they spend the majority of the year here.
If you do not receive a census form by April 1, call the Telephone Questionnaire Assistance center at 1-866-872-6868 from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. seven days a week through July 30, 2010. For more information about the 2010 Census, visit www.census.ohio.gov/.
Riley is the director of Ohio Department of Aging in Columbus.