American Community Survey is Legitimate
Each week, 17,000 Texans receive a packet from the US Census Bureau containing a 24-page American Community Survey. The survey asks for information about such sensitive issues as household income, property, benefits and expenses. Given the current level of concern about identity theft, a number of people have viewed the American Community Survey with suspicion and alarm. The survey is legitimate, however, and does actually come from the US Census Bureau.|
Though the number of surveys being mailed out statewide in Texas is large, the odds of any one household receiving it are low - about one in 500. Therefore, if you receive a packet and ask around among your friends and neighbors, chances are they will tell you they did not receive one. This does not mean it's a scam.
If you receive a packet, you can look for the US Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census return address. And when you send the survey back in the envelope provided, you will see that it is addressed to the Director of the US Census Bureau. To see what the actual survey looks like, you can go to www.census.gov/Press-Release/www/2004/ACSsurveyeng.pdf. For a thorough overview of the survey process, you can go to www.census.gov/acs/www/.
ABOUT CONSUMER ALERTS - The Office of the Attorney General accepts consumer complaints about businesses. When a pattern of complaints warrants intervention, the Attorney General can file a civil lawsuit under consumer protection statutes, sometimes with the result that a company is required to pay restitution to consumers -- see our Major Lawsuits page. However, when a consumer is swindled by a con artist, filing a complaint cannot help. Civil litigation can sometimes put a very unscrupulous business out of action, but often cannot produce restitution.
Individual con artists generally fall under the jurisdiction of a criminal prosecutor -- in Texas, this is the district or county attorney. But even when they are charged and convicted, these individuals usually have spent the money as fast as they have stolen it. A person who is the victim of fraud should report the incident to the police or sheriff. But by far the best thing is for consumers to be aware of fraud, so they are not swindled in the first place. For this reason, the Office of the Attorney General posts these Consumer Alerts about possible scams and schemes that come to our attention through citizen contacts to our office or other sources.