US Census 2020: Did you complete yours yet?

You should have received a letter in the mail by now asking you to respond to the US Census. Given the prevalence of scams, it’s understandable that some residents were wary.

For those worried about potentially being scammed, I’m sharing more details on what the legitimate mailers instruct/ask.

In mid-March, the federal government mailed instructions on how to respond to the 2020 Census online.  

Apparently, the Town Clerk has been getting questions. Some were confused about the difference between it and the Town’s census that they already completed. He asked me to help clarify for readers that the federal government’s questionnaire is separate and important.

Each year, the Town sends out an Annual Street Listing form referred to as the Town Census. It’s required under state law and helps the town when grants and state aid to cities and towns are considered.

The US Census is required by the US Constitution to be done once per decade. It’s also considered important for our Town. Town Clerk Jim Hegarty writes:

It is important for Southborough residents to complete this census because the data from the census is used to determine how billions of dollars in federal funds are returned to states and towns for public projects including schools, roads and other public projects.

Of course, I didn’t open your letter. So, I can’t verify that you only received legitimate mailers. But I can tell you what you should have and shouldn’t have received. 

The U.S. Census Bureau’s letter directed residents that they could respond online at and included a Census ID for your address. You may also have received a reminder notice. That notice included that if they did not receive your response online soon, they would be mailing a paper questionnaire. 

Since I completed mine online, I don’t know if the follow up questionnaires were sent out yet. If you did get one and prefer to answer that way, nothing in that should ask for:

  • Your full Social Security number
  • Your bank account or credit card numbers
  • Anything on behalf of a political party
  • Money or donations

It will ask for some personal information including the names and birth dates of everyone at your residence. You can see a sample here.

For more information on the census, including other ways to respond, you can visit the federal government’s website If you are concerned about how the census data will be used and wonder whether it’s worth responding, you can also check out the Massachusetts Secretary of State’s page dedicated to the census here.

As for the Town’s census, that was due on January 31st. Hegarty writes:

If anyone hasn’t returned the town census, they can sign it, and scan or take a picture and email that to If anyone wants to verify that their census was returned, or if they lost the census and would like a new form, please send an email to and we’ll help them.

(above top image is a sample of what the original envelopes looked like. The image underneath that is from the state’s website pitching the importance of residents’ responses)

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