Cape residents were recently warned by the Justice Project South Africa (JPSA) to think twice before sharing their personal information when entering gated communities or private estates as this can easily lead to them becoming victims of fraud, but what can locals do to protect themselves?

A recent case handled by the JPSA sparked concern as a vehicle’s registration had been cloned a number of times after the owner shared its details with guards that control access to a private estate.

CapeTalk spoke to JPSA chair Howard Dembovsky, who warned the community against readily sharing their information when entering estates.

It has become a familiar task to fill in a form when entering a private estate or have your car’s registration scanned by a handheld device. This is something that private estates have the right to ask for according to Admitted Attorney of the High Court, Tracey Meegan.

“There is no law which entitles anybody to enter private property, it is no different from you deciding who enters your personal home and what conditions they need to meet, for your to allow them to enter. Private Estates are owned by the title holders in the estate through their individual ownership of their own erf and their collective ownership of the common property. Normally to regulate this joint ownership a body corporate is established and they are entitled to agree to and implement rules, which regulate the use of common property and access to these areas. They are completely within their rights to refuse access to the premises,” says Meegan.

This puts locals in a tricky position because it is up to each individual to decide what they are comfortable with and how they handle the situation when it comes to providing their details at private estates, but it is also the estate’s responsibility to protect the information of each guest.

“Of course, there is relief for a person who has accessed an estate and given their personal information for a particular purpose, in this case, it’s clear that the purpose is to verify your identity with the view to securing the estate. If that information is then used for another purpose, be it by the guard on duty or someone else, the security company and the body corporate could be held responsible for that misuser as they are obliged to only use your personal information for that purpose and to protect it from misuse,” says Meegan.

Residents have a difficult decision to make because they can either avoid these estates all together, agree to accept the possible implication of giving their information or simply lie about their information on the form which is the least suggested of all options.

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