My Two Census

Formerly the non-partisan watchdog of the 2010 US Census, and currently an opinion blog that covers all things political, media, foreign policy, globalization, and culture…but sometimes returning to its census/demographics roots.

The Census Bureau makes follow-up calls to 10% of those who mailed in their forms

The Census Bureau’s follow-up system appears to invite fraud as there is no obvious way to know if you are talking to a scammer or Census Bureau employee…

Tags: , , , , , , ,

10 Responses to “The Census Bureau makes follow-up calls to 10% of those who mailed in their forms”

  1. anonymous Says:

    Absolutely! The public is leary of Census workers.

  2. FL-RI Says:

    I am guessing this post is a video since the post is empty at work, but if the CB didn’t make phone calls to complete EQ’s , you’d be complaining of even more waste since that would exponentially create more field work.

    If citizen’s have a problem answering the questions over the phone, an enumerator would gladly be sent to the address to complete the EQ.

    This site goes further downhill everyday, it once actually had valuable information, not anymore…

  3. Yet Another Enumerator Says:

    If the accusation here is “there is no obvious way to know if you are talking to a scammer or Census Bureau employee”, then this is, once again, bullshit.

    There’s a very obvious way of determining this: ask the calling person for their census name and ID, call the LCO (local census office), and ask them to confirm that this person is, in fact, a Census employee.

    It’s still possible, of course, that the person calling is a scammer who somehow got the ID of a bona fide employee, but you could go further and ask the LCO if this employee is supposed to be working in your neighborhood.

    So what do other people here think the actual chances are of a scam artist getting ahold of Census employee IDs and abusing them? I think it’s pretty low.

  4. nerfoo Says:

    I can’t see the video at work, either, so can’t comment on that. But, in addition to what YAE says, a person could simply say “I’m afraid that I don’t know if you are a census employee or not, because you called me from an unfamiliar phone number. Can you give me the phone number to your actual census office so that I can return your call there?” Then, when they get the number, they can check that to make sure it’s the phone number to an actual census office (a quick google search should do the trick, if they have internet access).

    Or, they can refuse to answer any questions that they feel will compromise their personal security. Just like they would if someone called and said “I’m from your credit card company/gas company/township office, etc”.

  5. Yet Another Enumerator Says:

    nerfoo: what you said. And if they call the LCO, they can leave the information requested there. I know our LCO was doing this, because I actually got a call from the office where they gave me the information I needed to complete an EQ. In fact, the person I talked to at the LCO said they preferred to do this–interview the person when they called in, rather than refer the call back to the enumerator–because it eliminated a lot of back-and-forth and frustration. (So we see that they–the Census–sometimes do the right and sensible thing.)

    The point that seems not to be getting addressed here is the issue raised by SRM’s headline, that follow-up calls are being made to 10% of respondents. The first question is, is this really a problem, or is this just more of SRM’s “throw shit against the wall and see what sticks” methodology? If this is part of the QC operation, then it seems reasonable to take a small sample of the population and double-check their data. I mean, if enumerators can falsify data, so can respondents (or at least turn in faulty data for some other unintentional reason). I don’t really know, as I’m not involved in this operation.

  6. nerfoo Says:

    Interesting story re: Census calling for follow-ups here:

    I picked it up from the twitter feed! :-D

    Says that these particular calls are being made from national census offices, with verifiable toll-free numbers as callback & caller ID numbers. So, people who are called and are suspicious should easily be able to verify the caller as a census employee and not a scammer.

  7. nerfoo Says:

    More info regarding these quality control calls here:

  8. Enumeratrix Says:

    For nerfoo and Yet Another Enumerator: The lady interviewed in the video remarks that she’s not going to do a call-back to verify the identity of the supposed Census worker who called her. Asking folks to do that shifts the burden of authenticating us to the person we are calling. And that’s a good point. I’ve had very few people call me after leaving “Notice of Visit” forms, and I think it boils down to the same “this is not worth my time, why should I call this stranger, Census or no Census!” (And what is the Census, really, to most folks–even after all the publicity and door-knocking? It’s not something they live with and are sworn to do with honesty and integrity, as we enumerators are…) It sure doesn’t help that the contact number we leave is our own personal telephone number….

  9. root beer float Says:

    My LCO refuses to take EQ info on the phone. The LCO gets the telephone number of the caller, then gives the telephone to the CL – takes about 3 or 4 days to receive the caller’s name/#.

  10. Yet Another Enumerator Says:

    @Enumeratrix: good points. Regarding confirming the identity of census workers, it would have been nice to have been issued some real ID, maybe with a photo (hey, if they went to all that trouble to get two sets of fingerprints, you’d think they coulda taken a Polaroid or something). Like my first crew leader told us, “Here’s your ID badge, which looks official but has no photo and which anyone could copy”.

    And you’re right as well about the relative priority all those people whose doors we’re knocking on give the census; not very high. Good things to keep in mind as we’re out there in the field.