If you didn't return your U.S. Census form in the mail, you could get a visit from a census enumerator as soon as Saturday.

If you didn't return your U.S. Census form in the mail, you could get a visit from a census enumerator as soon as Saturday.

May 1 marks the beginning of what the Census Bureau calls "non-responsive follow-up," when census workers personally will visit the residences that did not mail in the information.

Tom Szabla, the Northwest regional assistant census manager, was in Medford Wednesday to publicize the next phase of the 2010 national head count. Szabla encouraged people to be prepared to spend about 10 minutes to answer the 10 questions on the form.

"There's no reason not to do the census," he said, noting that all information is kept confidential for 72 years. Census workers pledge to keep all information confidential, and they face prison terms and six-figure fines for any violations of the privacy rules.

Szabla said all census enumerators will carry identification badges and cloth bags embellished with "U.S. Census Bureau."

"We train them to show the ID badge," Szabla said.

Census workers' vehicles will carry identification, too, he said.

Enumerators will try to visit homes at hours when people are most likely to be there, such as early evening. If no one answers the door, they'll leave a card with a phone number people can call to answer the census questions. They will make at least three personal visits to a house to attempt to collect information.

Szabla said there have been no documented cases of census-related fraud in Oregon during this count, but he said there are always a few people who try to disguise questionable or illegal activity under the pretext of taking some kind of "census" whenever the U.S. Census rolls around.

"Unfortunately, we don't have a trademark on the word 'census,' " Szabla said.

He said the Internet has raised concerns about identity theft in connection with this count because identity theft in general has become more of a problem, and news circulates almost instantaneously among millions of people.

"Information gets out so fast now," he said. "Any little news item becomes well-known."

He said any e-mail message asking for information in connection with the census should be ignored. The U.S. Census does not use e-mail for the count, and does not have anyone's e-mail address.

Legitimate census enumerators will not ask for personal financial information such as bank account or Social Security numbers. Nor will they enter the house.

Szabla said Oregon's 74 percent participation rate slightly exceeds the national figure of 72 percent, which matches the rate for the 2000 count. Jackson County's participation rate matched the state rate, at 74 percent. Gold Hill and Phoenix were the local cities with the highest participation rates, 81 percent. Shady Cove had the lowest participation rate, 64 percent.

Five Midwest states had the highest mail participation: Wisconsin (81 percent), Minnesota (80 percent), Indiana (78 percent), Iowa (78 percent) and Michigan (77 percent).

Reach Bill Kettler at 541-776-4492 or bkettler@mailtribune.com.