Census 2022 fieldworkers have been descending into the suburbs to collect population and housing data since 3 February. This is South Africa’s fourth population count post-democracy and the country’s first digital census where at least 165 000 fieldworkers will be deployed to count everyone within our borders.
The conducting of the census can open up opportunities for criminals, which is why residents are encouraged to remain vigilant regardless of how they plan to provide their information to Stats SA.
Charnel Hattingh, Head of Marketing and Communications at Fidelity ADT, says one of the most common ways criminals gain entry to properties is to pose as municipal workers or other service providers.
“While Census 2022 is a digital population count giving respondents the option to complete the census questionnaire with or without the assistance of a fieldworker, many people will experience a fieldworker arriving at their gate. Verification is vital, as is the case with any other person claiming to be a service provider or council worker,” she says.
This year, the official website, www.statssa.gov.za, provides a list of fieldworkers by province so homeowners can easily verify their identification online before allowing them in. Should you not find the person on the website, there are further steps you can take to verify their identification.
The census process also opens up opportunities for telephone scammers who can use technology to make you believe they are actually calling from Stats SA.
Hattingh says there are a few red flags that give fraudsters away. “The most suspicious behaviour a fake census worker can exhibit is asking intrusive and inappropriate questions. Avoid revealing personal information to a scam artist by knowing what questions census workers are allowed to ask – in person or over the phone.”
Everyone who lives on the property and staff who are there during the day need to be aware of the census and, more importantly, reminded of the household security protocols.
“If the rule is you don’t open the gate for strangers no matter what their story is, stick to this – at least until you are satisfied the person is a legitimate census fieldworker. And if you have registered and completed the questionnaire online then someone wanting to redo the process at your gate should be a red flag.
There is always a risk associated with opening your gate to strangers and even more so when you let them into your home. Personal and home security must be kept top of mind at all times an even more so during times you are urged to open your home to strangers for the purposes of the census,” says Hattingh.
Compiled by Justine Fortuin