Who’s knocking on your door? Some residents worry people are pretending to be Census Bureau workers

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — KXAN News has been hearing from you, our viewers. You told us people claiming they’re from the U.S. Census Bureau have been showing up at your homes.

Many people said they were worried because the agency doesn’t officially start counting people for the 2020 Census until next Spring.

Thursday, we asked Ronald Farrar, Assistant Regional Census Manager, about this. He said, “Most people don’t realize that census is out in the field every day of the year.”

He said it’s a little known fact.

“There’s a number of ongoing surveys that we conduct every month,” said Farrar. “A good example would be the current population survey. If you heard of the nation’s unemployment numbers, they come from the current population survey. That is collected every month of every year.”

The big count of how many people live in the United States happens once every 10 years. If you have concerns about who’s at your door, Farrar said you can get that person’s name and look it up on the Census Bureau’s website.

He said every employee will have a badge, and they ask questions related to demographics like your race or how many people live with you.

“But they’ll never ask for things like Social Security Number or credit numbers or anything like,” Farrar said.

New census office in Austin

Thursday, the Census Bureau opened a new office in Austin. They also opened one in Williamson County. The two sites oversee around 20 counties, including Bastrop, Hays and part of the Hill Country.

They said they’re ramping up community outreach efforts to get every single person living in Central Texas counted in the 2020 Census, which community leaders admit, is a challenge.

“They don’t want to be counted. They don’t want to be bothered,” said Alice Yi with the Austin Asian Chamber of Commerce. “We’re all so scared, especially the people who don’t speak English.”

The Census Bureau said when more people — both their employees and community volunteers — begin going door-to-door next Spring for the 2020 Census, they will have identification.

Quincy Dunlap with the Austin Area Urban League said, “When we do on the ground outreach and engagement, you have to go branded. You cannot go plain clothes because people are looking for an identifier.”

Everyone involved hopes between the new regional office and education efforts about what to expect will help more people feel comfortable.

“That’s why our job is pretty difficult from now until April, and we really need to build the trust, build the knowledge,” Yi said.

In 2020, for the first time, you will be able to fill out the Census form online.

If you’re really concerned about people going door-to-door with the Census forms, you can go with the online option or call the Census Bureau directly and get counted.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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