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Census scams concern immigrant, local communities

Census Day arrives with US almost paralyzed by coronavirus
Posted at 2:10 PM, Apr 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-08 20:00:25-04

TULSA, Okla. — The timing of a census survey is confusing a lot of people.

Since everyone just filled out the 'every-ten-year' census forms last year, it's understandable why some question why they're being asked to fill out more census surveys now. Some fear it may be a scam, including those in immigrant communities.

KJRH worked to find the answers.

An immigrant who's called Tulsa home for years said a letter that states it's a census survey scares her. Her family just filled out the census last year, she said, and now they received a form that's several pages long.

"Why are they asking so many questions," she asked. "Why are they checking up on us? I'm afraid we're being scammed."

During a zoom interview, KJRH showed the form called the American Community Survey to the assistant regional director of the Census Bureau.

"I would tell them absolutely it is safe," says Vicki McIntire. "It's long, it's the long form of the census."

McIntire said everyone used to be required to fill out that long form every ten years, but for the last 2 main census cycles everyone filled out a short form. Then, that long form is sent out to a smaller number of folks across the country every week, every month, every year, until the beginning of the next decade and the next main census.

"It's a sample, so it's not everybody, only selected housing units are selected and it's address, not the person, that's selected," McIntire said.

Those selected may be asked to do the long form by mail, online, or in rare cases, in-person with a census worker knocking on their door. All because times have changed and communities change much more quickly than just a handful of years ago.

"When we were doing it every ten years, the data was so outdated every ten years that it's not very useful," said McIntire about the census.

Data is used in many ways like to determine where federal money is best spent and where it'll do the most good, the census bureau said. The information is used by community planners, emergency management, and housing programs.

Officials want fresh information throughout the decade and consider it critical that people fill out the long form on a regular and consistent basis.

"And if you don't, then we will send someone to your house to collect the data."

As for our concerned immigrant, she's relieved to find out she's not being scammed and not being counted as a victim.

The Census Bureau also does surveys for many other federal agencies to gauge information like leading economic indicators, the unemployment rate, and housing.

Anyone with questions or concerns about a survey can contact the Census Bureau either by calling or going to their website. There, you can find the surveys that are ongoing.

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