Many people are receiving letters, phone calls and even visits from people representing that they are with the United States Census Bureau taking a survey known as the American Community Survey. While it is true that the official United States Census is only done once every ten years, the Census Bureau does a limited survey of 3.5 million randomly selected people in all of the states as well as Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico each year.
So how can you tell if you are being contacted and solicited for information by a legitimate census worker or by a scammer merely using the American Community Survey as a ruse to gather personal information from you in order to make you a victim of identity theft? First of all, the real American Community Survey does not ask for your Social Security number or credit card information. If you are asked for that information, it is a scam.
It is important to note that the Census Bureau will always initially contact you through a snail mail letter informing you that you have been selected to participate in the survey. The letter will also provide you with instructions as to how to complete the survey online. If you fail to complete the survey online a paper survey will be sent to you after three weeks. Once the survey has been completed either online or on paper, you may be called on the phone if the Census Bureau needs to clarify any information. You will not be asked for your Social Security number or any bank or credit card information.
A Census Bureau representative may come to your home to follow up on the survey. He or she will always have a photo ID with the U.S. Department of Commerce seal and an expiration date. If you are concerned that the person may be a scammer you can always contact your Census Bureau regional office to confirm that the visit is legitimate.
If you are contacted about participating in the American Community Survey, it is prudent to confirm that you have been selected to participate in the survey. You can do this by calling your Census Bureau regional office. Here is a link with the phone numbers for each region. https://www.census.gov/about/regions.html
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