March 18, 2010

Census 2010 - What You Must Answer and Yes, There Are Scammers

Well, I just received my Census questionaire. I bet you have yours, too. I got another envelope, too, which made me wonder about the Census ... so I went surfing to find out some scoop. Here's what I found out:

1. Scams.  Yes, Dear Reader, there ARE scammers out there that are trying to get identity theft info using fake Census forms. The real questionaire doesn't ask for your Social Security Number, or your bank account information. The real questionaire is on paper, NEVER online. Be careful out there! has some great information here as well as some suggestions on what you should do if you think you've received a fake census questionaire. 

2. What's Being Asked.  The 2010 Questionaire is one of the shortest in history, according to the Census site.  It asks you 10 questions, and you can see them online (which is important if you're checking a possible scammer against the real thing).   Each question shown here also has a brief explanation of how long the question has appeared on the Census, and why they're asking for the information. 
  1. How many people were living or staying in this house, apartment, or mobile home on April 1, 2010? 
  2. Were there any additional people staying here April 1, 2010 that you did not include in Question 1? 
  3. Is this house, apartment, or mobile home: owned with mortgage, owned without mortgage, rented, occupied without rent?  
  4. What is your telephone number? 
  5. Please provide information for each person living here. Start with a person here who owns or rents this house, apartment, or mobile home. If the owner or renter lives somewhere else, start with any adult living here. This will be Person 1. What is Person 1's name? 
  6. What is Person 1's sex? 
  7. What is Person 1's age and Date of Birth? 
  8. Is Person 1 of Hispanic, Latino or Spanish origin? 
  9. What is Person 1's race?
  10. Does Person 1 sometimes live or stay somewhere else?

3.  Do you have to answer?  Yes.  It's federal law and there are penalties if you don't give a response.  If you don't fill in the census form, someone will come to your house to ask you face to face these same questions.  Remember, the right of the government to take a census is in the Constitution.  Dovetailing that provision, Congress passed a statute that created penalties for those that failed to participate. 

4.  The controversy arises over how much information the federal government can obtain under this right -- and how this information will be used.  Libertarians (led by Ron Paul) are against the Census as being too invasive of an individual's privacy.  There's also a racism charge regarding the language in Question 9.   Personally, I've heard discussion about the ability of ne-erdowells to hack into the Census information and use this info for identity theft purposes, but I haven't read any news stories on that concern (or didn't find one in my cursory surfing). 

5.  Does everyone answer?  Apparently not.  A Palm Desert, California, report shows that for each census returned in 2000, that community received $2000 in federal funds.  However, the Coachella Valley only had a response rate of 50% then -- and from the news report, it looks like there may be more folk riled up now than back in 2000, as one person is quoted with asking why the government needs the info when the government is broke and has no money to allot.  And, the Response Rate of the 2000 Census is shown online, divided by state.  The District of Columbia had a 60% response rate in 2000 according to the site. 
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