Erie residents fear American Community Survey may be a scam

The federal government’s American Community Survey has once again confused at least a few residents of Erie County.

Two people I know have received the survey in the past few days. It comes from the US Census Bureau and ships to approximately 3.5 million Americans each year.

Many people think it is a scam because it is not as well known as the census itself and relatively few Americans receive it every year.

But the ACS is a legitimate Census Bureau mailing and responding to it is required by law.

The ACS was created after the 2000 census, when the government eliminated the long version of the census that had been sent to a small percentage of people. Now, a randomly selected number of Americans receive ACS at different times of the year.

The survey is much more detailed than the census. It asks the age of each person in the household, including how many acres the house is located on, how each person gets to work and how long it takes, and whether they have Internet access.

As I wrote in a September 2019 column, the responses are used to create up-to-date statistics used to help determine how $ 675 billion in federal and state funds is distributed each year, the Census Bureau reported.

The survey is used to help municipalities plan hospitals and schools, build bridges, fund school lunch programs, and improve emergency services.

Steps are taken to reduce the risk that a household will receive a survey more than once every five years.

The Census Bureau receives survey responses in four different ways: Internet, mail, telephone, and in-person interviews:

  • To complete the Internet survey, visit https://respond.census.gov/acs. You will need the 10-digit user code included in the shipment your household received.
  • To complete it by mail, simply use the survey and envelope included in your mailing.
  • To complete it over the phone, dial 1-800-354-7271.

It doesn’t seem like you can schedule an in-person interview, but an interviewer might come to your house if you don’t complete the survey or if you live in a group residence or in a remote area.

This person must have valid identification from the census office and a copy of the letter you received.

If you are still in doubt that an interviewer who has come to your door is legitimate, call the regional Census Bureau at 1-800-262-4236 to confirm their identity.

HERE TO HELP YOU: Have a consumer question you would like us to help you with? Leave a message to David Bruce at 870-1716, email [email protected], or email 205 W. 12th St., Erie, PA 16534.


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