Chicago, IL – March 25, 2010 - Every ten years the U.S. Federal Government is required to count each man woman and child in the country. Not surprisingly, the census is a massive undertaking requiring the work of more than a million people to accurately count the hundreds of millions of people living in the country. Contrary to the myths, participation in the census is extremely safe and easy, and the Better Business Bureau (BBB) encourages everyone to take a few minutes to fill out their census form when it arrives in the mail this week.
The Census Bureau will, on occasion, call individuals directly regarding a survey. Individuals who are contacted by someone in the Census should go to http://www.census.gov/survey_participants/ to confirm that it is not a scam.
According to a survey by the Pew Research Center, 12 percent of US residents said they weren’t sure if they would fill out their census form and six percent of those individuals said that it was unlikely, or that they definitely would not return the form. The main reason respondents gave for not returning the form was that they were just too busy, not interested or uninformed. However, a quarter of respondents said they didn’t trust the government.
“Some myths are floating around that are leading people to believe that the census is inconvenient or unsafe, but the opposite is true,” said Steve J. Bernas, president & CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. “Not only has the Census Bureau made safety and ease a priority, it’s also in the public’s best interest to respond to the census because it will help the individual’s voice be heard.”
In order to dispel some myths surrounding the census, the BBB offers up five reasons why everyone should participate:
It’s safe - By law, the Census Bureau cannot share respondents’ answers with anyone, including the IRS, FBI, CIA, INS or any other government agency. All Census Bureau employees take the oath of nondisclosure and are sworn for life to protect the confidentiality of the data. The penalty for unlawful disclosure is a fine of up to $250,000 and/or imprisonment of up to five years.
It’s easy - The mail-in census form is only ten questions long and, for many households, won’t take longer than ten minutes to answer. If you don’t return the form, you’ll be visited at your home by a census taker at least three times. Avoid the hassle and just fill out the form.
It allocates money and resources to help you - The information the census collects helps determine how more than $400 billion dollars of annual federal funding is spent on infrastructure and services that go to benefit the public including hospitals, job training centers, schools, bridges and roads.
It saves you money – For every 1 percent increase in mail response, the government—and ultimately taxpayers—save $80 to $90 million. Those who do not fill out their census forms will have to be re-contacted, which is extremely expensive.
It helps your voice be heard - Redistricting is the process of changing electoral district and constituency boundaries, usually in response to periodic census results. Census information affects the numbers of seats your state occupies in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Bernas adds, “It’s important that we all take 10 minutes to answer the 10 questions on our census forms.”
For more advice on filling out your census form and identifying a census employee, visit www.2010census.gov
As a private, non-profit organization, the purpose of the Better Business Bureau is to promote an ethical marketplace. BBBs help resolve buyer/seller complaints by means of conciliation, mediation and arbitration. BBBs also review advertising claims, online business practices and charitable organizations. BBBs develop and issue reports on businesses and nonprofit organizations and encourage people to check out a company or charity before making a purchase or donation.