Research firm responds to police warning

A research company has clarified that calls received by members of the public are part of a legitimate survey after a warning by police.

Police had urged people to look out for scams after receiving complaints about possible fraudulent phone calls made on Saturday.

Total Research Associates said the calls are part of a survey and promised they would not ask for personal information.

A spokesman for the company said: “Gathering this important information is not easy, and we take the practice seriously.

“We are grateful to all those who take part in our research for the time and focus they pay to share their opinions with us.

“Respecting privacy is an essential part of our commitment to individuals who take the time to give us their opinions.”

A police spokesman said on Monday that the calls came from 441-405-9999 and that callers had been asked for “personal information such as name and date of birth”.

A spokesman for TRA clarified yesterday that the 441-405-9999 calls were part of a survey.

The spokesman said: “We promise that our research adheres to the highest ethical standard.

“We safeguard the privacy of those who take part, and never ask for any personal information that could be used to identify someone. We ask for year of birth, not exact date, so that we can ensure we are obtaining completed surveys from a representative sample of the public.

The spokesman continued: “We ask for first name only at the end of the survey, in order to have a record of who we spoke with, in case the call needs to be verified later in the survey period by a supervisor.

“We want to know who within the household we spoke with.”

The spokesman said the survey also requests demographic details, such as education level, to help ensure the survey accurately represents the public.

He said: “All information we collect, which is primarily public opinion aimed at identifying the important issues in Bermuda, is stored on secure servers.

“Individual-level information we collect is never shared with a third party. We report on aggregated data only to our subscribers.

“We never contact someone if they ask not to be contacted again. We only contact individuals for research purposes. We never market or sell anything.”

The spokesman added: “At TRA, we regularly conduct research, by phone, online and in person, to gauge where opinions stand on important issues affecting the public.

“The Bermuda Omnibus Survey, running for over 20 years, is one of our regular studies conducted on a quarterly basis.

“This ongoing survey is one of the only ways that decision-makers can know what is important to residents of Bermuda, where consumer confidence stands, or how many people are employed on the island.”

A police spokesman said yesterday that the Bermuda Police Service welcomed the clarification.

He added that the telephone number’s automated message had been updated to let callers know that it was used “to conduct regular public opinion and market research surveys”.