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Information for Potential Participants

The Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF) is conducted every three years by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, the federal agency that is the headquarters of the nation's central bank. The main purpose of the survey is to help the government and, ultimately, the public at large understand the financial condition of families in the United States and to study the effects of changes in the economy. The data collected in the survey also support a wide variety of research on topics including saving, investment, debt payments, pension coverage, business ownership, use of financial institutions, credit discrimination, and financial markets.

The 2013 survey is expected to be conducted from April through December 2013. The interviewing will be done for the Board of Governors by NORC at the University of Chicago. The NORC website for the SCF provides answers to questions that you, as a potential participant, may have about the study.

NORC interviewers will attempt to contact everyone selected for the survey to allow potential respondents to ask detailed questions and request supporting material before deciding to participate. All interviewers are required to carry an official NORC picture identification card; please ask to see it if the interviewer comes to your door. If you prefer to speak by phone or if you wish to make an appointment, please call 1-888-493-5957.

Protecting the confidentiality of survey respondents is of paramount importance to NORC and the Federal Reserve. The data collected will be used for statistical purposes only. Such information is strongly protected under the law, including the Confidential Information Protection and Statistical Efficiency Act of 2002. That law makes violation of confidentiality a felony offense punishable by a substantial fine and prison term. Only people who are directly engaged in arranging and conducting interviews are allowed to see the names of the survey respondents. Furthermore, the answers participants give to the survey questions are separated from their names, and the identity of the participants appears nowhere in the study results. At the end of the study, NORC will destroy all the identifying information used in administering the survey. No one at the Federal Reserve is permitted to see the names of the participants.

Potential respondents seeking further clarification are encouraged to contact NORC (e-mail SCF@norc.uchicago.edu or call the Project Director, Catherine Haggerty, at 312-759-4065) so that their names will not be known to anyone at the Federal Reserve. Potential respondents who wish to contact the Federal Reserve Board for additional information may call the Board's Office of Public Affairs, at 202-452-2955.

The accuracy of the survey depends on the participation of families from all walks of life, so that it will represent the condition of the country as a whole. Thus, participation in the survey, which is completely voluntary, is a unique opportunity for families to help provide the Federal Reserve with an accurate picture of the financial condition of all types of households throughout the United States.

Please read the letter from Ben Bernanke, Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, in which he describes the study and encourages the participation of those who have been selected to take part in it.

Press release: Board Begins 2013 Survey of Consumer Finances

Federal Reserve Bulletin: Results from the 2010 SCF (PDF)

The OMB number for the survey is 7100-0287 and the expiration date of the approval is April 30, 2015. To view the final official notice for the 2013 SCF, see the Federal Register (Vol. 77, No. 69, Page 21,561) (PDF).