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2017 US Census - A million nosey questions - Are you kidding me?

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So I got the 2017 US census survey in the mail a week or two ago and decided I'd be a good boy and fill it out.  They warn that I'm required by law to fill it out.  Fine.

Right off the bat it tells me that it will take about 40 mins to fill out.  I think, "Hopefully that's a huge overestimate."  Now I'm filling it out and it's asking a million and one questions, most of which I'd prefer to answer "none of your business", but that's never an option for any of the questions.  It's asking for things like how much money I made last month, how much I paid on my mortgage, my home insurance, what my primary job responsibility is.  The list goes on.

And I'm pretty certain that when I finally get to the last question about me, they're going to ask all of those same questions again about everyone else living at my house.

As it turns out, I have a niece living with us short-term, and I truthfully included her at the beginning of filling this out.  But I have no idea how much she makes per month, and it's none of my business.  Which leads me to my question...

What am I supposed to do when I get to the questions about my niece?  Am I somehow required by law to require her to give me all of her financial details so that I can accurately complete this census?  This seems ridiculous.

I'm sure that many will respond that I shouldn't even bother filling it out, or that I should just answer $0 (or whatever answer comes closest to "I don't know" or "none of your business"), but what are the actual laws around this?  What are my supposed rights as far as this is concerned?

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Um, the next census is in 2020. What Nigerian prince did you just reveal all your PII to?

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I guess it's not *the* census. I guess they're referring to it as a "survey." Specifically, they call it the "American Community Survey." The URL that the they directed me to is:
https://respond.census.gov/acs

Re-reading the opening line of the letter, I was apparently lucky enough to be "randomly selected" for this survey. The closing paragraph includes this sentence:
You are required by U.S. law to respond to this survey.

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hipnetic said:   I guess it's not *the* census. I guess they're referring to it as a "survey." Specifically, they call it the "American Community Survey." The URL that the they directed me to is:
https://respond.census.gov/acs 

Re-reading the opening line of the letter, I was apparently lucky enough to be "randomly selected" for this survey. The closing paragraph includes this sentence:
You are required by U.S. law to respond to this survey.

  
Was it delivered via signed certified mail? If not, woops, I guess the survey was lost in transit.

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SummerSoFar said:   Was it delivered via signed certified mail? If not, woops, I guess the survey was lost in transit.Great point. I should've posted here before I started to fill it out online. I thought it was just going to ask me some high-level questions and would only take 10 mins of my time. Had I known what was in store for me ahead of time, I would have posted here first. Oh well.

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Maybe hand the form to her and ask her to fill out her portion if can be done, so she does not get the info about you?

I have not seen the form, so I am punting.

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jerosen said:   read the instructions maybe?

https://www2.census.gov/programs-surveys/acs/methodology/questionnaires/2016/guide16.pdf

  Yeah, that's just what I need...a set of instructions so long that it would require another 40 minutes of my time.

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jerosen said:   read the instructions maybe?

https://www2.census.gov/programs-surveys/acs/methodology/questionnaires/2016/guide16.pdf

  Specifically this,
above said: If anyone in the household, such as a roomer or boarder, does not want to give you his or her personal information, print at least the person’s name and answer questions 2 and 3 . An interviewer may telephone to get the information from that person .

 

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Just throw it in the trash. If some organization wants 40 minutes of my time they will have to pay me.

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hipnetic said:   I guess it's not *the* census. I guess they're referring to it as a "survey." Specifically, they call it the "American Community Survey." The URL that the they directed me to is:
https://respond.census.gov/acs 

Re-reading the opening line of the letter, I was apparently lucky enough to be "randomly selected" for this survey. The closing paragraph includes this sentence:
You are required by U.S. law to respond to this survey.

  
Sure, I would send a response in the mail to them that says "I choose not to respond to the survey"

atikovi said:   Just throw it in the trash. If some organization wants 40 minutes of my time they will have to pay me.
 

  

  
I live by this exact same notion in life. You want to make money out of me by me providing you information on ways to make money (be it what I'm interested in, etc...) - therefore, you must compensate me with part of it if you expect an honest answer.

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Ripppppppp......

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atikovi said:   Just throw it in the trash. If some organization wants 40 minutes of my time they will have to pay me.
  Technically they are, by not fining you.

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atikovi said:   Just throw it in the trash. If some organization wants 40 minutes of my time they will have to pay me.
 
   Aren't the prisons overflowing with people who did not fill out their 2010 U.S. Census forms?
 

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Sex?
With fasttimes mom

Government's just trying to get a handle on the total numbers so they can test their latest supercomputers.

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13 USC 221.

The fine for not answering the survey is $100

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scrouds said:   13 USC 221.

The fine for not answering the survey is $100

I am telling Uncle Sam, unless OP sends me $32.57 through venmo.

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Like someone said before, if it wasn't sent to you with a signature required, then how can they prove that you ever actually received the survey?

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roy7736 said:   Like someone said before, if it wasn't sent to you with a signature required, then how can they prove that you ever actually received the survey?
They already logged in to the website with the unique code?

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scrouds said:   The fine for not answering the survey is $100
  
I doubt it's enforced. I didn't participate in 1990, 2000, nor 2010. I've also turned them away when they've come to my door. I've never been fined.

I would be willing to answer the question: How many people live here?

However, they won't accept just a number. They want more information than I'm willing to take the time to provide.

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hipnetic said:   SummerSoFar said:   Was it delivered via signed certified mail? If not, woops, I guess the survey was lost in transit.Great point. I should've posted here before I started to fill it out online. I thought it was just going to ask me some high-level questions and would only take 10 mins of my time. Had I known what was in store for me ahead of time, I would have posted here first. Oh well. They will call you (if they have your number) and maybe even visit you if you don't return the survey. Last I looked into it, the survey results are used to determine local funding for stuff like schools, roads, etc.

There's still much resentment against the Census Bureau for their role in this travesty, maybe even more resentment for not admitting it for 65 years.  They do great work and I appreciate all the stats, but screw them when it comes to MY privacy (cognitive dissonance be dammed). I completely ignored them in 2010 and looked into not answering the ACS when a relative received it. I think you can get away if you have a legitimate excuse (not speaking any of the languages they speak, disability, etc) or if you manage to completely ignore them (don't sign for any mail, answer the phone, or come to the door when they visit). And even though there is indeed a fine of $100 for not answering the ACS as mentioned above, they've never enforced it (according to my research). Also if I recall correctly, the survey is addressed to "current resident", so if you don't tell them who you are, they can't easily fine you for that $100.

I'm not encouraging anyone to break the law, just sharing my feelings and providing the results of my research on the subject.

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Just to provide an update...I posted my original message *after* I already logged in to start the survey (shame on me). So at that point I figured I may as well go ahead and complete the darned thing, because I couldn't play the "what? I don't remember ever getting that in the mail" card. I'm an anarcho-capitalist/libertarian so I'm certainly of the opinion that it's none of their business. That said, I'm also a realist and realize:
a) They have the guns and if they want to threaten me with fines/jail, they'll win.
b) The notion that I'm somehow being a "rebel" by not telling them how much I made last year or how much my mortgage is seems silly. This is the US government. They already *KNOW* all of this because I had to tell them all of that when I filled out my 2016 tax forms. And I'm of the opinion that they also already know (or can easily find out) any financial details that I haven't openly disclosed to them in the past, because they don't care about my privacy and they can just tap any company on the shoulder and have them give up all of my private info.
c) So what's left? What am I actually "keeping secret" by not filling out the form? What time I, or other people in my household, leave for work? What our ancestry/ethnicity is? Does any of that really matter?

That last point leads me to my personal tin-foil hat opinion of what these surveys are all about...I suspect that they don't care about any of the specific details that you give them. If I was a paranoid government interested in controlling all of my citizens, I would send these surveys out every year asking all sorts of personal questions, and I wouldn't care about any of the particular answers. I would just make a list of everyone who didn't fill them out and return them. And then, when it looked like a revolution was near, I'd send out all of my Stasi to imprison or murder everyone on that list.

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LOL. You went a bit off the rails at the end there.

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kamalktk said:   Sex?
With fasttimes mom

Government's just trying to get a handle on the total numbers so they can test their latest supercomputers.

  
1.2 Teraf***s

eta: 1.2 Teraflops when the Viagra's run out

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OP, how did they get your email address? 

Edit:  NM, i see that op got the survey thing in the mail.

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atikovi said:   Just throw it in the trash. If some organization wants 40 minutes of my time they will have to pay me.
  I have added up all the time I have spent reading your comments and PM'd you a bill.

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hipnetic said:   That last point leads me to my personal tin-foil hat opinion of what these surveys are all about...I suspect that they don't care about any of the specific details that you give them. If I was a paranoid government interested in controlling all of my citizens, I would send these surveys out every year asking all sorts of personal questions, and I wouldn't care about any of the particular answers. I would just make a list of everyone who didn't fill them out and return them. And then, when it looked like a revolution was near, I'd send out all of my Stasi to imprison or murder everyone on that list.
 

It's nothing that sinister.  They just need to figure out how to gerrymander your congressional district so that your vote won't count

Just kidding... your votes don't count anyway
 

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hipnetic said:   That last point leads me to my personal tin-foil hat opinion of what these surveys are all about...I suspect that they don't care about any of the specific details that you give them. If I was a paranoid government interested in controlling all of my citizens, I would send these surveys out every year asking all sorts of personal questions, and I wouldn't care about any of the particular answers. I would just make a list of everyone who didn't fill them out and return them. And then, when it looked like a revolution was near, I'd send out all of my Stasi to imprison or murder everyone on that list.
  Wow. You have a lot going on in your head. There are people you can see to help you with that. I'm sure you would think they are trying to control your mind, so you wouldn't do that.

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like all data, garbage in, garbage out. i've accepted the fact that my data isn't mine at all. between the top 5 tech companies, they have all my emails and know what toothpaste i buy. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/05/10/technology/Rankin...
and then there's the NSA and hackers who get data i didn't really permit. so between those two groups, my entirely boring life's data is out there.
so protesting my PII by not participating on the census doesn't seem all that revolutionary or worthwhile.

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You need to reread the last sentence "You are required by U.S. law to respond to this survey." Responding is not the same thing as answering every one of their questions. I would answer what I want and hit the submit button. If it didn't want to submit Id let it go - technical difficulties you know.

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ach1199 said:   OP, how did they get your email address? 
They didn't send me anything via email.  They sent the letter in the regular old fashioned mail.  It referenced their website.  Had I not logged in to fill it out online, I believe they were going to follow up by sending out a print version of the survey.

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JaxFL said:   You need to reread the last sentence "You are required by U.S. law to respond to this survey." Responding is not the same thing as answering every one of their questions. I would answer what I want and hit the submit button. If it didn't want to submit Id let it go - technical difficulties you know.
  Yeah, I thought about that.  But, as I previously stated, I'm sure they can find out the answer to almost any of these questions anyway, if they talked to the right department (e.g., the IRS), so I didn't see much use in protesting.  The one exception was with the questions asking about my niece.  For some of those, I typed in "I don't know".  If they really want to know, they can follow up and talk to her directly.

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Why would they ask questions about your niece? Does she live with you and you volunteered this fact or what?

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scripta said:   Why would they ask questions about your niece? Does she live with you and you volunteered this fact or what?
Yes they ask for people in household.

It's a $500 fine to lie.

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JaxFL said:   You need to reread the last sentence "You are required by U.S. law to respond to this survey." Responding is not the same thing as answering every one of their questions. I would answer what I want and hit the submit button. If it didn't want to submit Id let it go - technical difficulties you know.And you need to reread 13 USC 221. The law says to answer all questions to the best of your knowledge. Only questions about religion are explicitly excluded.

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scripta said:   The law says to answer all questions to the best of your knowledge.
Sounds like stupidity is a legal defense then.

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scrouds said:   
scripta said:   Why would they ask questions about your niece? Does she live with you and you volunteered this fact or what?
Yes they ask for people in household.

It's a $500 fine to lie.

  But just $100 if you toss it in the trash? And you save 40 minutes.

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scripta said:   
JaxFL said:   You need to reread the last sentence "You are required by U.S. law to respond to this survey." Responding is not the same thing as answering every one of their questions. I would answer what I want and hit the submit button. If it didn't want to submit Id let it go - technical difficulties you know.
And you need to reread 13 USC 221. The law says to answer all questions to the best of your knowledge. Only questions about religion are explicitly excluded.

  Haha, Im sure it does.  I think the census survey i got years back had alot of questions as well. I dont remember if I sent it back or not. Im certainly not the type to answer questions I dont feel the need to answer. First time I had ever gotten a census in my life, and was surprised how in depth.... You see the old movies or something its like they ask 2-3 questions.

I once got a federal jury selection notice.  I wrote on it that I'm an alcoholic and I think the judicial system is a farce...and that was that.  You know they purposely make you go across town and not to your nearest courthouse. I didnt feel like going all the way on the south side of Chicago for jury. Been there done that.  I think it was two months later I got another notice in the mail, haha.  Well by that time I was moving, so I sent them proof that Im moving... I was gone shortly thereafter, so no idea if or how they responded.

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scrouds said:   
It's a $500 fine to lie.

Morale of the story, you may as well not fill the survey at all since it's only a $100 fine.  

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