Census Bureau reminds residents about the importance of the census and to watch out for scams

Jeff Behler, director of the New York region of the U.S. Census Bureau, gave a recent presentation that covered the following topics: possible employment, the safety of the census, it’s level of difficulty and the overall importance of the census.

Jeff Behler, director of the New York region of the U.S. Census Bureau, gave a presentation during a South Jersey council meeting recently about the importance of the census. Behler’s presentation covered the following topics: possible employment, the safety of the census, its level of difficulty and the overall importance of the census. 

To begin, Behler discussed employment. Behler stated the majority of jobs are short-term with the possibility of nights and weekends. The majority of the jobs pay between $16.50 and $20 per hour and citizens can apply on the Census Bureau’s website at 2020census.gov/jobs.

The Census Bureau is looking for roughly 50,000 people to help in the country’s effort to gather information. 

Everyone who is employed by the U.S. Census Bureau, from full-time workers to temporary workers, is required to take an oath of confidentiality for life. If any information is released, an individual can face up to five years in jail and a fine of up to $250,000.

“Every piece of data the Census Bureau collects is protected under Title 13,” said Behler. “A federal law that took place in the 1950s that states we can’t release any information that will identify an individual or household. No one can access our data at any time for any reason.”

According to Behler, there will be four ways to respond to the 2020 census. This includes paper, door-to-door, online and over the phone. However, Behler said the phone option is initiated by residents, not the bureau. If a resident receives a call from someone claiming to be from the Census Bureau, it is a scam. 

The 2020 census is short form only, which includes name, age, date of birth, race or ethnicity, whether you own or rent your home, gender and relationship to the first person on the form. The bureau will not ask for Social Security numbers, bank account numbers or money. If someone is asking for those, things it is a scam.

“There are multiple ways to fill out the census,” said Burlington County’s Undersheriff Michael Ditzel. “People just have to remember that the census won’t ask any financial questions. If it something seems fishy, they can always look at the Census Bureau online on their website. 

“What we have seen in previous scams is that those people like to target the senior citizen community,” Ditzel continued. “Typically that is the community that will take the time out to talk to people on the phone.”

The final point Behler touched on is the importance of the census, noting the seats in the House of Representatives are based on census data and a congressional redistricting will occur in 2022 based on census data. He also added federal funding is awarded based on census data.