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Gwen Miller suspected a scam when two people came door to door in her Congress Heights neighborhood, asking for residents’ checking-account numbers in the name of community improvement. In fact, say members of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), Miller was witnessing the marriage of grass-roots activism and auto-pay banking. “People don’t normally have cash,” says ACORN organizer Madhu Wijesinghe. So instead, the group arranges to withdraw monthly dues automatically. Will Ward, head organizer of D.C.’s chapter of ACORN, concedes that knocking on doors to ask for account information might alarm people. But the cashless method allows people to keep track of their payments to the group, Ward says. Congress Heights dwellers remain skeptical. “I ain’t stupid,” Miller says. “Nobody gets my checking-account number.” —Ryan Fox