Why we Ask For Your Telephone Number

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Written by: Director Robert Groves

One of the 10 questions on the 2010 Census form asks for your telephone number. Why do we ask that question?

We found over past censuses that sometimes there are contradictory answers given on some questions. For example, some folks in the first question on the form answer that there are four people living in the household. Then, as they proceed through the form, they report the attributes of only three people. This is easy to do if you lose track of your progress through the form. When we process the form in our centers, we notice this discrepancy. We are devoted to making sure we collect the most accurate data possible.

With the telephone number of the household we can have a quick telephone call to resolve the discrepancy. Our only use of the telephone number is to verify that we have recorded accurate information about the household.

Like all census responses, the telephone number is shared with no other agency or company. Once we make sure we understand all your responses, we remove the record of the telephone number from our files.

Please submit any questions pertaining to this post to ask.census.gov.

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32 Responses to Why we Ask For Your Telephone Number

  1. Patriot says:

    Providing your phone number is not a requirement in accordance with federal law and the US Constitution. It is in fact a violation of the power granted the government in the constitution.

  2. Patriot,
    The U.S. Constitution empowers the Congress to carry out the census in “such manner as they shall by Law direct” (Article I, Section 2). Congress has passed numerous laws over the last two centuries governing the conduct of the census and other surveys. These laws are now incorporated in Title 13 of the United States Code. You can learn more at our website, 2010census.gov, and there is detailed information on the Census in the Constitution at this link: http://2010.census.gov/2010census/why/constitutional.php

  3. Jeff says:

    Your not getting my phone number!

  4. constitutionalist says:

    I don’t have a phone. This is VERY INTRUSIVE.

  5. Terry says:

    you people are not entitled to my phone number – its on a do not call list for a reason!

  6. varso says:

    What if somebody does not have a phone number…? It is not a county, state, or federal, or is it…?

  7. Floyd says:

    It says enumeration as in counting the people. What do the rest of the questions have to do with counting the population?

  8. Ken says:

    Count me as one human being living as an American citizen in the Ohio 3rd Congressional District of the USA in the year 2010. That is all anyone needs to know.

  9. Bob G says:

    Kevin, Terry & Patriot. Stand your ground. Name, rank and serial number (cluck) should be enough .

  10. Floyd,
    To see the history and purpose of each of the 10 questions, please visit: http://2010.census.gov/2010census/how/interactive-form.php

  11. Mr. Lee says:

    I’m in agreement. There is no way I’m giving my telephone number on this form. I don’t give it to anyone but family. If “Congress” wants my telephone number, a Congressman can come and ask me for it.

  12. Andy says:

    You are not getting any more information from me other than the number of occupants and their nationality. I will truthfully answer each other question as “private information”. Thereby answering each question and not lying as well.
    If you don’t like it, then go ahead and prosecute me.

  13. artaqq@southslope.net says:

    How much did it cost them to send us a stupid letter to letter us know they were going to be sending us the Census form next week? Hello? Are we not in the middle of ‘the worse economy since the Greta Depression?’

  14. We have extensive research that shows additional mailings alerting households to the arrival of the census form increase response rates by about 6 to 12 percentage points. The savings from that increase more than pay for these mailings. It costs about $85 million to print and mail the advance letter and reminder postcard. The potential increase in response rates demonstrated by our research could result in a savings of more than $500 million.

  15. Glenda Schultz says:

    Hey I agree with you 100% They are not getting anymore information than how many people, and do I live at this resident. sorry not more information for them, I pay my taxes, and plus. Nothing from me, and I live in Ne. they have enough the way I see it.

  16. Glenda Schultz says:

    Hey, I agree with you all, all they are getting from me, is how many people in the resident,no more info, from me, they already know, as for my phone # I give to the ones I want to give it to! Any unavailable calls I don`t answer, for then you have no reason to talk to me. besides the gov, has enough info on us all already, with all the taxes that we all pay, come on give us a break.

  17. Ted says:

    I am dismayed at the tone of these comments. Of course it is reasonable to ask for a phone number, given that the purpose is to save public money by allowing the Census Bureau to resolve discrepancies on census forms with a phone call rather than a visit by a census worker.

  18. T says:


  19. Justin says:

    Sad that this reasonable question is not being answered. Census workers, please respond: If one does not have a telephone number, what should one do?

  20. EDR says:

    You can have my phone number but don’t call; don’t even put that little thought in your little brain. And the thought of a visit should not even occur.

  21. Jon doe says:

    why do you need to know anything more than 2 adults and 2 kids?

  22. If your form is filled out correctly and you don’t include a phone number, then your form will be processed normally. If there is a question or missing information about your form, and you do not include a phone number, you will be visited by a census worker to obtain the follow up information.

  23. Kim says:

    I am sorry, but in this day and age of identity theft, I did not put my phone number down, nor the birthdates of my family members, nor did I feel your question as to whether a child is biological or adoptive as being probative or relevant. We have had our information comprised three times within 8 years and I am not going to have it happen again.This is an enumeration there is no need for birthdates or other personal information. Furthermore, there are other agencies that have that data collected such as IRS, education systems, credit agencies and the like; not to mention the military.

  24. Kim says:

    I am sorry but you are not getting my phone number nor the dates of birth of my family members. We have had our identities comprised three times in the last 8 years and I am not going to have it happen again. Furthermore, why is probative or relevant to have dates of birth? There are other agencies that collect all the information: vital records sections, IRS, military, education and the list goes on; maybe, there should be cross utilization of databases or systems. There is no reason that the census should be wanting more than #s and ethnicity.

  25. FC Bacon says:

    It is BIG Brother knocking on our door asking toooooo much information. The Goverment does very little well, I don’t trust them one bit.

  26. Federal state and local governments need data about age to interpret most social and economic characteristic such as forecasting the number of people eligible for social security and Medicare. The data is also widely used for planning and evaluating government policies and programs that provide funding and services for children, working age adults, women of childbearing age or the older population. Your phone is collected in case the information provided on the form is incomplete– it’s a lot less expensive to make a phone call than to send someone to a house. If you send in an incomplete form, someone will be required to visit.

  27. Nanny says:

    WHAT are you afraid of? This level of paranoia might require medication and/or institutionalization !

  28. Richard D'Antonio says:

    Perhaps if the form had an entry for “If we need clarification of your entries how may we contact you” and a place for phone or e-mail entry, and make it clear it is not mandatory. The census will not transfer the telephone number into their digital data base. The “photo copy” image that will be retained and made public in 72 tears will reveal this info (if not “redacted”) but I don’t think that will be a problem for me.
    It is odd that both age on April 1st and birth date are requested. In this computer age can’t one be inferred from the other? Could have made it one entry less.
    I feel that the 2010 census is far more less intrusive than the 7 others I have been involved in during my life and is fully in accordance with the constitution!

  29. Richard,
    This is actually one of the shortest forms history.

  30. Frank says:

    A local government job application asks for; name, address, telephone number or email address, eligibility to work in the U.S., military service, education level attained, bilingual ability, driver’s license number, employment history, and ss#. It does ask (and cannot legally ask) about marital status, number of children if any, gender, age, race, political or religious affiliation, date of birth, what type of residence, or ethnicity. During the job interview process, an applicant cannot be asked those questions. If it is illegal to ask some things on a government job application, then how can the Census form include questions 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10?

  31. Frank, In advance of providing the questions to be included on the next census to Congress, the U.S. Census Bureau asked federal agencies to provide information on their data needs, so that only necessary data are collected, as opposed to data that could be acquired by other means. The Office of Management and Budget facilitates the process to validate current uses of census data, determine unnecessary subjects and questions, and identify new subjects for which questions are required. Section 141(f)(2) of the Census Act requires that not later than 2 years before the next census, the questions to be included on that census be submitted to Congress. In March 2007, the subjects to be included on the 2010 Census and the American Community Survey were submitted to Congress.

  32. I don’t feel it is intrusive but some people genuinley do not have a telephone. Shoudl they be using their mobile phone number? Why is asking for a phone number any more or less intrusive then asking for an email address, number of people in your home, etc.

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