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Tag Archive | "Better Business Bureau"

Citizens concerned about lengthy Census Form


American Community Survey from the US Census Bureau is safe and response is required by law

The Better Business Bureau has received calls from concerned people across the country who received a Census form in the mail that asked personal questions involving their income range and employment situation. The BBB advises consumers that, while most will receive a short 10-question 2010 Census survey form, they should not be alarmed if they are chosen to respond to the 69-question American Community Survey (ACS) as well.

The 2010 Census form has 10 questions covering basic information while the ACS has 69 questions on topics such as income, household expenses, employment, education, and work commutes. Some individuals who received the ACS in addition to the 10-question form contacted their BBB over concerns that the form was actually the work of scammers.

“Everyone in the country has been prepped to expect the simple 10-question survey in their mailbox and red flags automatically go up when they receive the longer and more personal American Community Survey,” said Ken Vander Meeden, BBB of Western Michigan CEO.  “While the questions in the ACS might seem invasive, especially when compared to the 10-question form, responding to the survey is safe, important and required by law.”

The BBB reminds consumers that the American Community Survey and the 2010 Census will never ask for donations or bank account, Social Security or credit card numbers. The Census Bureau may contact you by mail or phone, but will not send you unsolicited e-mails requesting sensitive personal information.

The following are a few answers to frequently asked questions to the BBB about the American Community Survey:

How many addresses receive the ACS? The ACS is sent to a random sample of approximately 3 million addresses per year, or approximately 250,000 each month of the year. This means that approximately 2.5 percent of the population will receive the ACS in any given year.

If I received both the 10-question survey and ACS do I need to respond to both? If you receive both the 10-question form and the ACS, you are required by law to respond to both.

The questions seem to get personal, are my answers safe? Responding to the ACS is safe and your personal information will not be shared with anyone, including other government agencies.

Why does the federal government need to ask me so many questions? In addition to needing population counts, communities need data about the well being of children, families, and the elderly to provide services to them. The information you provide on the ACS not only helps your community get its fair share of federal funds, but also to establish goals, identify problems and solutions, and measure the performance of programs.

I received a survey from the federal government, but it isn’t the ACS or the 2010 survey. Is it legit? At any point in time the US Census Bureau distributes a number of different surveys to the American public and the topics and length vary. Before responding to a survey you received in the mail that claims to be with the Census Bureau, do your research on the Census Bureau’s Web site (“Are you in a survey?” Link) at www.census.gov/survey_participants/.

Who do I contact if I have questions or could use help filling out the ACS?  If you need help completing your American Community Survey questionnaire or have other questions about the American Community Survey, please call 1-800-354-7271 for an English-speaking operator. If you prefer a Spanish-speaking operator, call 1-877-833-5625.

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Free on-site document shredding and identity theft prevention tips


The Better Business Bureau (BBB) and its national partners, the National Foundation for Credit Counseling and the National Association for Information Destruction invite the west Michigan community to the BBB “Secure Your ID” Day Saturday, October 17, 2009 from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at Northview High School, 4451 Hunsberger Drive NE, Grand Rapids.

Residents and small businesses are encouraged to attend the event and take a key step in identity protection by shredding and properly disposing of their sensitive paper documents as well as CDs and floppy discs.  BBB staff will also be on-site to provide expert advice and tips for identity theft protection.

“Properly destroying documents that carry information you don’t want getting into the hands of crooks is an important first step to fighting identity theft, but it doesn’t end there,” said Ken Vander Meeden, BBB of Western Michigan CEO. “That’s why BBB staff will also be on hand offering important advice and simple steps everyone can take to prevent ID theft in their daily lives, both online and off.”

Last year alone, 8.1 million Americans became victims of ID theft, resulting in the loss of $45 billion, according to a 2008 report from Javelin Strategy and Research. The report notes that the majority (56 percent) of ID theft occurs when the thief has direct contact with the victim’s personal information, through a stolen or lost wallet, rifling through a personal mailbox or trashcan, or even lifting documents from inside a home or business.

Bring your documents to be shredded and take home the tips and resources you need to help protect yourself. Documents to be shredded should be removed from binders, but staples, paper clips, CDs and floppy discs are okay to be shredded.

As the result of two nationwide Secure Your ID Days in 2008 alone, the BBB helped individuals and small businesses at more than 83 sites across the country shred 1.2 million pounds of sensitive documents – all for free.  For more information on the BBB “Secure Your ID Day” and identity theft prevention measures for both consumers and businesses, visit:  www.westernmichigan.bbb.org.

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