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Census workers begin door-to-door visits today

Workers for the 2010 Census are about to begin visiting households which did not mail back census forms or did not receive them.

Starting today, 635,000 workers across the country will start visiting an estimated 48 million households. The effort will continue through July 10.

"America's had a very successful first half of the 2010 Census, where more than 72 percent of the nation's households mailed back their census forms," U.S. Census Bureau Director Robert M. Groves said in a news release Friday. "But achieving a complete and accurate census requires us to now go door to door to count all the remaining households we've not heard back from."

A legitimate Census employee will present an ID badge that contains a Department of Commerce watermark and expiration date. The census taker may also be carrying a black canvas bag with a Census Bureau logo.

Census employees will provide supervisor contact information and the local census office phone number for verification, if asked. They will ask only the questions that appear on the 2010 Census form.

Census takers do not ask for Social Security numbers, bank account numbers or credit card information, and they will never solicit for donations or make contact by e-mail.

In most cases, workers will make up to six attempts at each housing unit address to count possible residents.

"If a Census taker knocks on your door, please help by providing the basic information required for the Census," Groves said in the release. "Your answers are strictly confidential; there are just 10 questions on the form, and it should only take about 10 minutes to complete."

Census takers try to ensure that no one is missed in the census. After exhausting their efforts to do an in-person interview, they will seek out proxy sources -- a neighbor, a rental agent, a building manager or some other knowledgeable person -- to obtain as much basic information about the occupants as they can.

Some households will receive a visit if they mailed back their form after follow-up packets were sent to local census offices.

The Census Bureau is urging cooperation and patience with the census-takers, as this is the best way to ensure that everyone is counted properly.

The part-time, temporary census workers are hired from the communities they serve. All census takers undergo an FBI background check and have taken an oath for life to protect the information they collect. They face stiff penalties for any disclosure of personally identifiable information.