Protect yourself and others against imposters and impersonators

As stores “deck the halls” for the festive season, it is important to note this time of the year also has a downside for the public as criminals ramp of their efforts to gain from every opportunity they can find.

Posing as customers is an old trick. Small businesses are especially vulnerable because even if they do have a security door and buzzer, for example, when a “customer” arrives you have to open for them.

Charnel Hattingh, the group head of marketing and communications at Fidelity ADT, adds that in the suburbs, residents are contending with imposters too.

“This is also not a new trend; criminals just find more innovative guises to successfully gain access to a property,” she says. “They very often pose as council workers coming to check a meter box or with a form you have to sign for whatever reason.”

She warns that criminals watch homes to study routines and know when domestic staff are alone on the property. This is an opportunity then for them to pose as a delivery service or maintenance workers to con the domestic worker to open the gate.

“We have reiterated the danger of opening the gate to strangers on many occasions. Your perimeter protection is your first line of defence and if this is breached by someone opening the gate, things can go wrong very quickly,” Hattingh says.

“Along with other important security issues, employers must fully enforce a rule with anyone at home not to open the gate to strangers – no matter who they say they are! Ideally, homes should have an intercom system from which you can clearly see who is at the gate and clearly communicate with them about what they want without having to go outside.”


Hattingh says these are the 5 golden rules when a stranger is at the gate:

  1. Ask who they are and what they want.
  2. If you were not expecting them, don’t let them in – no matter what their story is.
  3. If they say the employer ordered them to come fix something, the domestic worker needs to phone their employer immediately. It is not likely that the employer left home without mentioning a service provider is coming and for what reason. So, if they didn’t tell you, treat this person at the gate as highly suspicious.
  4. If you don’t have an intercom system, talk to them through a window from the safety of a locked up house.
  5. Keep a remote panic with you at all times and do not hesitate to press it to alert your security service provider if you see anything or anyone suspicious. This is especially important for domestic staff.
Charnel Hattingh, the group head of marketing and communications at Fidelity ADT. Photography by Jeremy Glyn for CFPR/ADT in October2018.

Hattingh concludes that all strangers at your gate need to be treated as suspicious persons, and this includes people begging for food – even those with babies in prams.

“It is a sad reality that joblessness has forced many people into begging and into lying about who they are so that they can get onto properties and rob people – perhaps even harm them. Protect your loved ones and your possessions by sticking to strict security rules at home and ensuring you have the right security systems in place, and that they are working as they should.”


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