The American Community Survey

By Gema de las Heras Consumer Education Specialist March 7, 2023

Getting a call, letter, or a visit about the American Community Survey (ACS) — when so many scammers are trying to trick you into sharing personal information — might make you think twice. And it’s good to think twice. But the ACS is a legitimate survey to collect information used to make decisions about how federal funding is spent in your community. Want to know more? Read on.

Annually, the U.S. Census Bureau — which is part of the Department of Commerce — randomly selects 3.5 million households around the country to participate in the ACS. Many federal, state, tribal, and local leaders use the answers to update their statistics. 

If you got a survey and want to verify it’s legit, call your Census Bureau regional office. Here’s what else to expect:

  • You’ll get a letter first. The Census Bureau first sends a letter saying your address was selected for the ACS. It’ll tell you how to complete the survey online.
  • Reminders will follow. If you don’t complete the survey online, a paper questionnaire will follow in about three weeks. Or you’ll get an email reminder if you gave an email address.
  • Survey participants may get a call. If you did the survey online or on paper, and if the Census Bureau needs to clarify information, they might call. But no one will ever ask for your bank or credit card information. That’s a scam.
  • In-person interviewers must show ID. A Census Bureau representative may visit you at home after normal business hours, when it’s more likely you’ll be home, to complete the process in person. Interviewers must show a photo ID with the U.S. Department of Commerce seal and an expiration date.

To learn more, visit the U.S. Census Bureau’s ACS page and read more about Identity Theft and Online Securityto help you protect your personal information.


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