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Telephone Point of Purchase Survey (TPOPS)

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The Telephone Point of Purchase Survey (TPOPS) is an important survey that helps determine the Consumer Price Index (CPI). The TPOPS is used to collect data about where consumers purchase goods and services and how much they are spending, in order to get a better idea of the nation's consumption habits.

If you have been asked to participate in this survey, this site will help you verify that the survey came from the Census Bureau, verify that the person who called or came to your door is a Census Bureau employee, and inform you of how we protect your data.

If you have additional concerns and wish to contact Census Bureau staff regarding the survey, please see the contact information at the bottom of this page.

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Overview

The Telephone Point of Purchase Survey or TPOPS is a national survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau on behalf of the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The survey collects important information needed for producing the Consumer Price Index (CPI), our Nation’s most important measure of inflation.

The TPOPS asks household respondents questions about where they purchased certain items. You may have purchased the item on-line, by mail order, or from a traditional “brick and mortar” store. Prices vary depending on where you shop. Where you make purchases is an important factor used in determining the CPI.

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Why is this survey important?

  • In order for the BLS to update the CPI, it is necessary to maintain an up-to-date list of the stores and businesses where people shop. The Census Bureau conducts TPOPS to provide statistical data needed to update this list. Your participation is essential for ensuring that this survey’s results are complete and accurate.
  • Data from this survey is used in the production of the CPI which measures inflation; that is, increases in costs for products or services. Our ability to quantify inflation allows both government and business sectors to make informed economic decisions that directly affect our Nation’s citizens.
  • The CPI is used to provide cost-of-living adjustments to millions of American workers and retirees. The CPI is used to adjust income eligibility levels for government programs and government assistance.

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What is the legal authority for conducting this survey?

The U.S. Census Bureau conducts this survey under the authority of Title 13, United States Code (U.S.C.), Section 8 and the Confidential Information Protection and Statistical Efficiency Act (CIPSEA) requires us to keep all information you provide strictly confidential, and to use that information for statistical purposes only.

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How was I selected to be in this survey?

We selected your phone number and not you personally. We chose your phone number based on a process called Random Digit Dialing (RDD). We selected your number at random from all possible numbers within your metropolitan area. Your responses represent thousands of other households similar to yours.

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What should you expect if your phone number was randomly selected to be in the survey?

  • If your telephone number was selected for the TPOPS, you may have received a letter from the Director of the Census Bureau notifying you that you have been selected. The letter provides information about the survey and informs you that a representative from the Census Bureau will be contacting you in the near future.
  • Interviewers in one of our two contact centers will call you. When our interviewers place an outbound call, either the toll-free number of the survey is displayed, 1-800-681-3012, or the local number of the particular call center listed below:
    • Jeffersonville, IN Contact Center: (812) 218-3144
    • Tucson, AZ Contact Center:  (520) 798-4152

    “US Census Bureau” may or may not display on your Caller ID.

  • Before we start the survey, we will ask you if you received our letter. If you did not receive our letter, the interviewer will provide you with information about the survey included in the letter and answer any questions you may have at that time.
  • Our staff have flexible hours and will be glad to accommodate your schedule. If you work, we will conduct the interview after business hours or on the weekend. If daytime is preferable, we can accommodate that time as well.
  • You will be contacted up to a total of eight times. Each interview will take place approximately every three months throughout a two-year period. Each survey interview averages about 7 to 15 minutes depending on your answers. During this interview, we will ask you if you recently purchased certain items and if you did, where you purchased that item. In subsequent interviews, we will ask you about a different set of items.

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How can I verify that the person contacting me is a Census Bureau employee?

If you receive a call and wish to verify that the caller is a Census Bureau employee, you can use the staff search on our website.

Or, visit our page about identifying Census Bureau telephone interviewers for more information.

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What if we have minimal expenses?

The Census Bureau depends on your responses in order to produce quality statistics - even if your household has limited or minimal expenses.

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Is participation mandatory?

Participation in the TPOPS is voluntary and you can refuse any question you do not want to answer during the interview. However, when you participate, you are representing thousands of other households like yours. In order to be able to create quality statistics, we rely on the participation of those who are randomly selected. If you choose not to participate, your household and others like it will not be adequately represented.

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Can I be identified by my responses?

  • All Census Bureau employees take an oath of confidentiality and are subject to fines and imprisonment, if they improperly disclose information provided by people like you. All information collected is used for statistical purposes only.
  • Furthermore, the BLS, its employees, agents, and partner statistical agencies, will use the information you provide for statistical purposes only and will hold the information in confidence to the full extent permitted by law. In accordance with the Confidential Information Protection and Statistical Efficiency Act of 2002 (Title 5 of Public Law 107-347) and other applicable Federal laws. Your response will not be disclosed without your informed consent.

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How do I know my responses are safe?

The Census Bureau encrypts all of the answers you provide whether your information is in transit or at rest on the Census Bureau’s servers. These servers are part of a stand-alone network that is not accessible by the Internet. These servers are constantly monitored for any attempts at intrusion.

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Where can I find the statistics produced by this survey?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics TPOPS website offers additional information for households selected to participate in the TPOPS.

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What if I have additional questions, recommendations, or issues that I need resolved?

If you have additional questions about the survey, or if you wish to speak to someone at the Census Bureau, you can contact the respondent advocate. The respondent advocate can address the concerns of those households that have been selected to participate in this survey, as well as share that feedback with those who manage the survey operations.

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The Bureau of Labor Statistics Telephone Point of Purchase Survey website offers additional information for participants in the survey.

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The Census Bureau has a web page “Are You In A Survey” designed to answer additional questions you might have about being in a Census Bureau survey.

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