Taking the Census Safely

U.S. Census officials are responding to fearful residents in Houston after a man was killed and his family was beaten and robbed by someone posing as a census worker. As Laurie Johnson reports — there are things to look for and ways to verify that the person knocking at your door does work for the census.

Houston police say a man pretending to be a census worker gained entry to a family's house in North Houston on Saturday. He and two other men proceeded to ransack the home, beating the wife and child and stabbing the husband.

It's a scary scenario under any circumstances, but particularly during a time when people are told they need to answer the door for census workers.

"We'd like to just express our condolences to the families and all those affected by this very tragic incident."

That's U.S. Census Bureau Spokesman Eduardo Guity. He says there are specific things you can look for to make sure the person knocking is actually with the census.

"One of the red flag issues is if the person that knocks on your door does not have a badge that clearly identifies them as working with the census. If the individual doesn't have a specific shoulder bag, black with emblazoned U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Commerce emblem on it."

And, Guity says, census workers don't ask to come inside and don't ask any questions other than the ones on the
official form.

"A real census worker will never ask to enter your premises. If they ask you anything regarding a donation or money or what is your migratory status in this country, close the door and call the police."

And if for any reason you're not comfortable answering the door, Guity says real census workers will leave a note so you can call and set up an appointment with them later.

For more information, visit www.houstontx.gov/census2010.html.
 

Bio photo of Laurie Johnson

Laurie Johnson

Local Host, All Things Considered

Laurie Johnson is the Houston host for All Things Considered at KUHF NPR for Houston. Before taking the anchor chair, she worked as a general assignments reporter at KUHF, starting there as an intern in 2002...