Contact Census office to verify follow-up calls


POSTED: Thursday, November 12, 2009

Question: I completed a U.S. Census Bureau general questionnaire. I have now received two phone calls from someone claiming to be calling on behalf of the Census Bureau. They ask about 10 questions, all repeating information in the questionnaire. Are they legitimate? Why duplicate this work?

Answer: If you have any doubts about the legitimacy of a Census Bureau call or home visit, ask for the person's name and badge number.

Then call the local Census office to verify the information given, advised Lynne Choy-Uyeda, media specialist for the bureau's Los Angeles Region, which includes Hawaii.

She said survey-takers might get a follow-up phone call if there are answers that need clarification, but couldn't really say why you received two calls. Again, she said if you have any concerns, to call the local office.

In preparation for the Decennial Census, which will be conducted in 2010, a Honolulu office has opened at 900 Fort Street Mall, Suite 800. Call 535-0920. An office in Waianae will open in January.

In addition to the Decennial Census, conducted every 10 years, the Census Bureau has “;ongoing surveys throughout the year, every year, called the American Community Survey,”; Choy-Uyeda said.

The two surveys are completely different:

» The 2010 questionnaire will be sent to all households in March; the American Community Survey is sent to a random sampling of people in an area.

» The 2010 questionnaire will be general, have only 10 questions and take only about 10 minutes to complete; the American Community Survey asks many very personal questions and takes longer to complete.

» The 2010 questionnaire is used to get a population count and determine how to apportion seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and decide how to allocate more than $400 billion a year for roads, hospitals, schools and other projects.

The American Community Survey is intended to collect demographic information, which is then used to help determine where to locate services and allocate resources in a community.

That survey goes “;into a lot of, lot of detail, such as how much you earn, what your household income is, what the level of education of the head of household is, how long your commute to work is, what kind of car you drive, how old your car is,”; etc., Choy-Uyeda said.

So if you wanted to check the demographics of the City and County of Honolulu, for example, you could find what the median income is, the level of education, how many people rent their home—“;all kinds of information that the 2010 Census (won't) ask,”; Choy-Uyeda said.

Regarding the 2010 survey, the Census Bureau hopes that everyone returns the form by April 1, “;Census Day.”;

If you don't return the questionnaire by mail by a certain period, you will be sent another one as a reminder, Choy-Uyeda said. The Census Bureau can track who doesn't return a questionnaire because each is bar-coded with the address.

“;Then they have two to three weeks to fill that one out and if they still don't respond, then we send out the census takers, what we call the 'door knockers,'”; she said.

She points out that the U.S. Constitution mandates that “;everyone be counted and (to) fill out the Census form and return it.”;

Write to ”;Kokua Line”; at Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu 96813; call 529-4773; fax 529-4750; or e-mail .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).