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The Bottom Line : Census Survey

Updated: Friday, August 2 2013, 10:17 PM EDT
ALBANY -- Is it legit, or is it a scam?
One CBS 6 viewer asked that question about a pages-long survey she received in the mail, containing dozens of personal questions - so she sent it to Dori Marlin, to get The Bottom Line.
The survey says that it's from the U.S. Census Bureau, but it's called the American Community Survey.  28 pages in all, that left Pam Furbeck of Ballston Lake scratching her head.
"When I started looking at it, and at first it seemed just like a census," she told Dori. "Your name, your address, your phone number.  But as I started looking it over, they started asking more personal questions."
Things like: How many minutes did it take to get home from work?  And: How many times has this person been married?
It also stated she could be forced to pay a penalty of up to $5,000 if she didn't respond, and directed her to a website to find out more.
Pam didn't know if it was legit or not, so Dori called the Census Bureau to get The Bottom Line.
Turns out - the survey is real.
"What the census does is it counts the population," says spokesperson Cheryl Chambers. "What the American Community Survey does is provide comprehensive information about people and what is actually happening in their communities."
Chambers tells Dori that localities look at it, so they can make the case to the federal government and grantmakers about the needs of their communities.
She also says, the survey is sent to residents at random; the website listed is legit; and that $5,000 penalty is possible as well.
Dori asked, "So if someone chooses not to respond, they could be forced to pay $5,000?"
"We anticipate that would not occur, but that is a law on the books."  Chambers says it is up to law enforcement, as to whether to prosecute.
The Bottom Line : Census Survey

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