(WTOL) - Thousands of people are receiving a strange letter that appears to be from the government in the mail, and with so much ID theft these days, you can't be too sure about anything.
So here's what to do and what not to do if you receive this suspicious mailing.
Unexpected Envelope in Mail
Butch Payne found a large white envelope in his mailbox the other day outside his home. "It was addressed to the resident of my address," he said.
He says he almost pitched it.
"I thought it was junk mail. I was getting ready to throw it, and then I realized it said US Department of Commerce," Payne said.
The letter explained it was the American Community Survey, an expanded census form sent to 3 million families every year, not just census years, which happen once each decade.
Like just about everyone who has ever received this letter in the mail, his first question was: "Is this really from the government, or is it some sort of ID theft scam?"
"Is this maybe some kind of scam artist?" Payne asked. "Because they ask you to go online and fill out this survey."
Payne says he was horrified by some of the questions on it, such as:
- Are you married, widowed or divorced?
- How do you get to work?
- What time do you leave for work?
- What's your annual income?
He says with so much hacking in the news, he didn't want to answer that.
"You hear about all the email hacking, " he said "that's going on right now."
The US Commerce department says you are required by law to answer the questions as best as you can.
But it says no one has ever been prosecuted for leaving questions blank.
Payne says it's just a little too intrusive.
"I just think the government is getting too big for their britches," he said.
Finally if you fail to fill it out, you will get a visit from a census worker at the door. So at least answer some of the questions so you don't waste your money.
Don't Waste Your Money is a registered trademark of the EW Scripps Co.
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