On Your Side Alert: Legit or Scam? American Community Survey

Published: Jan. 9, 2013 at 5:15 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 11, 2013 at 10:49 PM EST
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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Some of you may have received The American Community Survey from the Census in the mail and asked yourself, is this legit? Well, you are not alone, others are asking that same question. The survey asks lots of personal questions and that has many of you uncomfortable. We did some digging and got some answers.

Not only did you call some of you emailed us wanting to know more about the survey. One concerned viewer says, "The questions asked are quite involved and personal and there is no need for the government to know most of these things. Do you know if this survey is a scam or legit? "

We checked and the survey includes dozens of questions like "what time does a family member go to work", "how long does it take them get to work" -- and "how many times have you been married?"

Despite how awkward some of these question sound, we can confirm The American Community Survey is not a scam. In fact, you are required by law to fill it out and could be fined up to five thousand dollars if you don't. This doesn't mean however, that scammers won't try to create something similar, so before you fill out the survey, contact the Census.

The survey began in 2005 and is ongoing. It collects data on millions of people every year. The information is used in part, to distribute billions of dollars in federal funds. We couldn't get anyone on camera but were directed us to the census website. It's a detailed site that answers many questions you may have including providing helpful phone numbers.

When it comes to your privacy, the Census tells us your information is safe. In fact, it says the information you provide is not shared with anyone -- including federal agencies or law enforcement. Employees even take an oath of privacy for life. If they break the oath, it means five years in prison or a 250-thousand dollar or both.

There are a number ways you can fill out the survey. You can mail it, complete it by phone, online or with a Census filed agent in person. If you don't have a computer, use the numbers below for help.

  • General 1-800-923-8282
  • Questionnaire 1-800-354-7271
  • ¿Ayuda? 1-877-833-5625

Remember, if you have a consumer issue or you think you've been scammed, I want to hear from you. You can Tweet me or post a message on my Facebook Page.

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