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Consumer alert: New York State Division of Consumer Protection offers tips to New Yorkers on upcoming outreach for census


Thu, Aug 6th 2020 11:30 am

With households across the state due to receive visits from census takers starting this week, New Yorkers should be aware of key information; Census Bureau also emailing households to encourage

The New York State Division of Consumer Protection (DCP) on Wednesday issued guidance to New Yorkers about census takers who will be visiting homes that haven’t yet responded to the census beginning this week. To encourage participation, the Census Bureau also recently started emailing households that have not yet responded to the census.

The Office for New Americans is also hosting a census hotline phone bank event from 2-4 p.m. today to provide information and answer questions about the census. Announced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo as part of “Census Push Week,” the hotline phone bank event will be primarily Spanish-language, with full multilanguage access available for all callers. ONA is partnering with El Diario and Telemundo to help promote the phone bank and increase participation of the Latino community. The hotline can be reached at 1-800-566-7636.

“It has never been more important for all New Yorkers to complete the census, and we want to make sure every single person living in New York state is armed with key information about the process to ensure a complete count,” New York State Secretary of State Rossana Rosado said. “Completing the census is safe and easy, and the information you provide is confidential.”

Jeff Behler, U.S. Census Bureau’s New York regional director, said, “I want to stress to all households that it is safe to open your doors and speak with census takers when we visit. All data is protected under federal law and census takers must keep your answers confidential for life. We do not share your answers with anyone. We do not ask for citizenship status, social security numbers or bank information. By answering the census takers’ questions, you'll help shape the future of your community for the next 10 years.”

Once every decade, the nation conducts the census, which is a constitutionally mandated count of every American, regardless of their citizenship status. The decennial census is one of the nation's most important programs. New Yorkers' fair share of federal funds for programs essential to health care, education, emergency planning, housing, economic development and transportation, as well as congressional representation in Washington, all depends on an accurate and fully counted census response.

Below is key information on the Census counting process that New Yorkers can keep in mind when completing the census:

√ Census Takers in your Neighborhood. You may see census takers, known as enumerators, in your neighborhood to collect responses to the 2020 census. Census takers will only be visiting homes that haven’t yet responded to the census online, by phone or by mail. All census takers completed a virtual COVID-19 training on social distancing and other health and safety protocols and will follow CDC and local public health guidelines when they visit. All census takers are required to wear a face mask and will also be equipped with hand sanitizer and gloves.

•Census takers are hired from your area, and their goal is to help you and everyone in your home be counted in the 2020 census. If the census taker who visits your home does not speak your language, you may request a return visit from a census taker who does speak your language. If no one is home when the census taker visits, they will leave a notice of their visit with information about how to respond online, by phone or mail.

Below are reminders to help identify a census taker:

•Census takers and field representatives will conduct their work between the hours of 9 a.m. and 9 p.m.

•All census takers or field representatives will present an ID badge that includes their name, their photograph, a Department of Commerce watermark, and an expiration date.

•In addition to wearing a mask, all census takers or field representatives will have an official 2020 census bag and Census Bureau-issued electronic device, such as a laptop or smartphone, bearing the Census Bureau logo. There will be an “official business” notice on their car.

•Official census takers will never ask to enter your home. They will never ask for money, threaten detainment or deportation, or request additional documentation. They will only ask questions that are on the official census questionnaire.

•You can find additional information about census takers by clicking here.

•If you still have questions about a census taker’s identity, you can call 844-330-2020 to speak with a local Census Bureau representative.

√ Census Emails. The Census Bureau also recently began emailing households that have not yet responded to the census. Emails will be sent to all households in low-responding areas, even to those households that have responded. The email messages will come from [email protected] and will have a link to the census self-response page. There will be an option to opt out of receiving future messages.

The Census Bureau is also considering sending text messages to areas that have low response. If such a decision is made, more information will be available prior to deploying the outreach.

√ Four Ways to Respond. There are four ways to respond to the 2020 census: online, by phone, by mail or in person (with the help of census taker who will be visiting households which have not yet responded). Visit https://my2020census.gov/ to complete the census online or call 1-844-330-2020 to complete the census by phone. Additional phone numbers for a variety of languages can be found at https://2020census.gov/en/contact-us.html. You can also mail in the form you should have received in March from the Census Bureau.

Questions asked. The census asks how many people are living in your household as of April 1, 2020. The census asks just 10 basic questions: name; number of people living or staying in the home on April 1, 2020; whether the residence is owned or rented; telephone number (only to be used if needed for official Census Bureau business); sex; age; date of birth; Hispanic origin; race; and relationship with other household members.

When completing the census, please note college students should be counted where they would have been staying on April 1, 2020, even if they went home early due to a COVID-19 school closure or a shift to distance learning.

There is no citizenship question on the 2020 census. The census will never ask for citizenship or immigration status, social security numbers, money or donations, anything on behalf of a political party or for your bank or credit card account numbers.

√ Your Data is Protected. The U.S. Census Bureau is bound by law to protect your answers and keep them strictly confidential. In fact, every employee takes an oath to protect your personal information for life. Under Title 13 of the U.S. Code, the Census Bureau cannot release any identifiable information about you, your home, or your immigration status, even to law enforcement agencies. The law ensures that your private data is protected and that your answers cannot be used against you by any government agency or court. The answers you provide are used only to produce statistics.

√ Avoiding Scams Online: The use of any website that mentions being affiliated with the U.S. Census should be verified. The easiest way to verify the site is to check if address includes “.gov,” as only official U.S. and state government websites can use “.gov.” Fraudulent sites purporting to be official government service providers may steal personal information.

•Reporting suspected fraud: If you suspect fraud, call 844-330-2020 to speak with a local Census Bureau representative. If it is determined that the visitor who came to your door does not work for the Census Bureau, contact your local police department.

Official census information can be found by visiting the U.S. Census Bureau website and by visiting New York state’s census website.

The New York State Department of State also offers the following resources to help New Yorkers:

•Office for New Americans free hotline (1-800-566-7636) is available from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. and can help new Americans in more than 200 hundred languages. For more information on the Office for New Americans, visit the website at https://www.newamericans.ny.gov/. The office can also be reached via Twitter at @NYSNewAmericans or Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/NYSNewAmericans.

•DCP consumer helpline (1-800-697-1220) offers safe, direct assistance for any New Yorker who believes they have been treated unfairly while in the marketplace. To report suspected census fraud or scams, call the DCP consumer helpline from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays or visit its website at www.dos.ny.gov/consumerprotection. The division can also be reached via Twitter at @NYSConsumer or Facebook at www.facebook.com/nysconsumer.

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