DENVER (CBS4) – Some people have raised questions about a survey that gets so personal it could be confused for a scam.

A concerned viewer contacted 4 On Your Side Consumer Investigator Jodi Brooks about the letter, so Brooks talked to a spokesperson with the U.S. Census Bureau. He said they take concerns of a scam very seriously, but the letter is not a scam.

Those who don’t want to fill out the survey and mail it can fill it out online as well.

“I felt that the questions were very invasive,” the CBS4 viewer told Brooks.

The questionnaire is from the American Community Survey. It asks questions like “how much is the regular monthly mortgage?” And, “what time did you usually leave home to go to work last week?” And your “income in the past 12 months.”

“I don’t even get questions like that from my insurance company,” the viewer said.

The envelope was addressed to the resident of Apartment 202 and no one specifically. It turns out the questionnaire is from the U.S. Census Bureau and is legitimate.

Questions about monthly mortgages help generate statistics used by the government for housing assistance programs. Questions about when leaving for work are for basic information about commuting patterns. The question about income helps measure economic well-being.

“I contacted several neighbors around here, called friends, and nobody that I talked to had received this,” the viewer said.

According to the Census Bureau, the nationwide survey is a random sample sent to 250,000 people each month, reaching three million people a year.

“I tore the letter up and I threw it away,” the viewer said.

That’s why he didn’t want CBS4 to use his name or appear on camera. The viewer has already received a second mailing from the Census Bureau asking him to fill out the survey. Just as people are required to respond to jury duty, get a driver’s license to drive, pay their taxes and report their income; they are required by law to respond to census surveys. Those who refuse can face a fine of $100 to $5,000.


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