2020 Census: Frequently Asked Question’s 

What is the Census? 

• The U.S. Constitution mandates that we take a physical count of all people in the United States every 10 years. The first Census was in 1790. 

What are Census data used for? 

Census data is the leading source of quality data about the nation’s people and economy. 

• Federal funding – more than $675 billion of federal funding granted to States, Counties, and communities for numerous programs. (medical, housing, nutrition assistance, roads, CDBG, etc.) 

• Local governing officials – to determine the changing needs of a community; public safety, roads, schools, resources, etc. 

• Residents – to support community initiatives involving legislation, and quality of life. 

• Businesses – to decide where to build factories, offices, and stores – creating jobs. 

• Real estate developers – to plan new homes and improve neighborhoods. 

• Apportionment – to determine how many Congressional Representatives each State will have.

When will I receive the Census questionnaire? 

In mid-March 2020 most addresses in the United States will receive a postcard with instructions to participate online, but you will also have the option to respond via phone or mail. Through spring and summer 2020, Census Bureau employees will follow up in-person at addresses that have not yet been counted. 

How do I respond to the Census? 

The 2020 Census will still allow for traditional response methods such as by mail or phone. Additionally, for the first time, respondents will be able to complete their forms online. Non-respondents will be followed up with in-person canvassing.

Will someone come to my home? 

Not if you complete the Census questionnaire by April 1, 2020. You can compete the Census questionnaire online, by phone or mail. 

What if I don’t have access to a computer? 

The online questionnaire can be completed on a smartphone and desktop internet kiosks will be available at the Sterling Heights Library, the new Sterling Heights Community Center, and some other community centers. 

How can I be sure my information is protected online? 

Data security is the highest priority for the Census Bureau and extensive protections are in place to protect the integrity of the 2020 Census. Online responses are secured by multiple layers of encryption and isolated from online access as soon as you hit submit. And by working with the federal intelligence community and private industry, the Census Bureau can quickly identify and respond to any external threats to its databases. 

Are Census data really confidential? 

Absolutely! Census data are strictly used for statistical purposes. Private information, such as name, address, and phone numbers, is confidential and will never be shared. Title 13 of the U.S. Code strictly prohibits the sharing of a respondent’s personal information with immigration enforcement agencies, like ICE; law enforcement agencies, like the FBI or police; or allow it to be used to determine their eligibility for government benefits. It is a felony for any Census Bureau employee to disclose any confidential census information during or after employment, and the penalty for wrongful disclosure is up to 5 years imprisonment and/or a fine of $250,000. 

Will there be a citizenship question on the 2020 Census? 

The U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled to not include a citizenship question on the 2020 Census. 

How does the Census Bureau help me identify scams? 

The Census Bureau will never ask for your full social security number, money or donations, anything on behalf of a political party, or your bank or credit card information. If you are visited by someone from the 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. 

For more information, please email census2020@sterling-heights.net.