The 2020 census will tell us many things about the United States and its population.

Participating in the census is very important for West Virginians of all ages because of how multiple federal benefits are allocated and controlled.

Many federal programs focus on funding for those with low income or living in rural areas. Under-counting would also mean under-funding.

A George Washington University study revealed that West Virginia relies the most of any U.S. state on federal money that is guided through census results.

On both state and local government levels, federal funding is crucial, making accurate census results just as crucial. Many valuable programs and services for older West Virginians are at least partially funded by federal dollars that are allocated based in part on census figures. Making sure every senior is properly counted ensures that we get our fair share of support for seniors.

There is a federal law that makes it a crime to refuse to cooperate with requests for census information. By and large, it has not been enforced, but could be.

Currently, information is being collected online, through phone calls from legitimate census takers and by mail. To expedite the process, the online process is the easiest.

The Federal Trade Commission wants everyone to be aware that fraudulent schemes to get an individual’s personal information are occurring, using the false pretense that the person is calling on behalf of the federal census.

If fraud is suspected in any contact that is census-related, call 800-923-8282 to speak with a representative at the nearest Census Bureau or go online to FTC.gov/Complaint to file a complaint.

For those age 60 and over, information on any legal issue is available through the West Virginia Senior Legal Aid program at 800-229-5068. Free assistance can be provided by the staff attorney to state residents.