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Be careful who you open the door for

Fidelity shares tips on what to do when someone tries to access your property.

You have probably read this story or heard about something similar happening wherever you live. A homeowner has reported a robbery or a theft that all started when they allowed someone into their home, who pretended to be someone else.

“It is possible that these kinds of incidents happen far more often than we would like to think. Opportunistic criminals are always looking for easy targets.

“They often pretend to be a service provider to get entry to homes where they have no legitimate reason to be,” warns Charnel Hattingh, group head of communications and marketing at Fidelity Services Group.

The first step that everyone should take, she adds, is never to blindly accept whatever you are told. No matter if it is a phone technician, a municipal inspector, a satellite dish installer, or a census taker, you should always ask questions.

“These criminals rely on the good-naturedness of people who would believe whatever story they tell you without questioning you. Current crime levels sadly mean that we have to be sceptical and insist on proper identification before opening the door,” says Hattingh.

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She advises residents to first ask the person for official identification and a plausible explanation of why they need access to the property.

“If possible, ask for the phone number of an office or a manager who could independently verify the reasons for the visit. Where you still feel uneasy, call your closest police station, your neighbourhood watch, or security company to send someone to assist.

“Most reputable service providers will always have staff members with official identification on them and would only arrive at your doorstep after making an appointment. For example, our armed response officers have visible ID badges on them, and our technicians only work on an appointment basis,” says Hattingh.

“Make sure anyone that lives with you or works in your house when you are not there understands the importance of being careful about opening for unknown visitors.

“We also ask people to report to the SAPS attempts by ‘impersonators’ to enter your home. This information is vital for the police and security agencies to get a picture of the current crime trends in your suburb.”

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