Census 2020: Important dates and protecting privacy

By DAISY WASHINGTON / Community Columnist

From March 12-20, households began receiving official U.S. Census Bureau mail with detailed information on how to respond to the 2020 Census online, by phone or by mail.

Individuals wishing to complete the paper form should simply answer the questions and return the questionnaire form in the prepaid envelope provided.

Pictured is the U.S. Census Bureau’s letter mailed to households about how to complete a 2020 Census questionnaire. (Contributed)

Individuals wishing to complete the form online can log onto My2020census.gov and enter the 12-digit Census ID, which is printed below the barcode on the front of the questionnaire. Upon completing the online form, it is important to click the submit button in order to assure the submission is completed.

Anyone needing assistance to complete the form should call 1-844-330-2020. The phone line operates seven days a week.

Both versions of the questionnaire can be completed in about 10 minutes.

A confirmation page will be displayed to confirm the completion and information identifying the individual filing. Anyone with access to a printer might want to print this page and retain a copy for their records.

From March 30-April 1, the Census Bureau will count homeless individuals (those in shelters, soup kitchens, mobile food vans, on the streets and non-sheltered, outdoor locations such as tent encampments).

Also, in April, Census takers will begin visiting college students who live on campus, individuals living in senior centers and those living among large groups of people.

Follow-up with households in those areas that have not yet responded will also take place in April.

Lastly, to make certain everyone is counted, Census takers will begin visiting homes that haven’t responded to the 2020 Census.

The Census Bureau is required by law to protect respondent information, and responses are used for statistical purposes only.

Responses that could identify the person completing the form or household is not released publicly.

Census information completed online is protected through The Federal Cybersecurity Enhancement Act of 2015 from cybersecurity risks through screening of the systems that transmit a respondent’s information, and data is encrypted to protect privacy.

Confidentiality of census information is protected under Title 13 of the U.S. Code. Only authorized individuals have access to the stored data, and the information the provided to the Census Bureau can be used only by a restricted number of authorized persons that are sworn for life to protect the confidentiality of a respondent’s individual responses. Information provided cannot be used against the participants by any government agency or court.

Anyone interested in additional information on these practices should refer to Census.gov and click on “Data Protection and Privacy Policy” at the bottom of the page.