How to tell if a census taker is legit

May 10, 2010 4:46:11 PM PDT
A disturbing story about three men posing as census workers to rob a Houston family's home is a warning to all of us on who we let inside our homes. We've been telling you for months that census workers would be making the rounds. Action 13's Jeff Ehling explains what you should look for, before opening your door, or before answering personal questions over the phone.

Census workers are going door to door trying to get those who have not filled out the form to answer the 10 questions. However, some people say they are getting phone calls, and the Census Bureau wants to clear up who's calling and what kind of identification a real census taker has on them at all times.

It is not hard to find someone who has not filled out a census in this apartment-lined southwest Houston neighborhood.

"I did not do anything; I just threw them on the table," said Paula Rath, who has not filled out a census form.

She is among the 52 percent of Houston residents in this neighborhood who have not answered the census questionnaire. Rath is also among a growing number of Houston residents who say they are getting phone calls about the census.

"I just say I am not interested and hang up," said Rath.

While census officials want Rath to fill out her form, they say the phone calls she's receiving did not come from a Census 2010 enumerator.

Eduardo Guity is with the Census Bureau. He says it is possible that people will get calls from the Census Bureau conducting other surveys. However, he says if you have not filled out a form, or filled it out late, your first contact from the Census Bureau will not be a phone call.

"No kind of communication is going to be occurring or has been occurring from the 2010 Census to the respondent," said Guity.

He says census enumerators will not call a person who has not already filled out a form.

"The enumerators are actually trained to knock on your door. They will leave a message already preprinted on your door with a number that you the resident, you the homeowner, will call the Census Bureau," Guity said.

Census officials say if an enumerator does come to your door, they will have a badge to identify themselves, and they will also have a black shoulder bag with them.

If you get a knock on the door from someone claiming to be from the census and you just are not sure about them, you can call a toll free number to check on the person. That number is 800-563-6499.

Again, there are phone surveys being done, and those surveys can include questions about income, but census officials say the workers going door to door are not calling residents who have not filled out a form yet. If you have filled out a form, you may get a follow-up phone call.

For more on making sure census workers are legitimate, watch this video from Eyewitness News Sunday morning.


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