4 Must-Have Security Tips If You Live in an Apartment or Work in an Office Building

“Hey! Would you mind holding that door for me? I’m late for work and left my FOB upstairs!”
Etiquette we learn at Wawa entrances would suggest you are helping this person out by holding the door, right? Sometimes you need to say no, though. It might seem rude or uncomfortable, but there are policies and procedures for buildings that keep everyone safe. Here are two common social engineering “scams” ne’er-do-wells use to get around security and four tips on how to avoid putting yourself and other occupants of your building at risk.
It seems like an innocent enough request, I mean, you’re helping this person out, right? Anyone that’s ever gone to a WaWa around here knows that it’s practically a requirement to hold the door! But sometimes, you’ve got to say no. When it comes to safety and security, it can make all the difference. The security of your building is everyone’s responsibility, no matter what your occupation. Saying “NO” might seem rude or mean, but policy and procedures are in place to keep everyone safe. Here are a couple of common social engineering “scams” that are used to beat security, and some tips on how to defeat them.
Scam #1: Piggybacking
The scammer will wait near an entrance or exit for a staff member or resident to use a secured door and then grabs the door before it is secure again to gain entry. The individual may also wait around and follow you to the entrance in hopes you will hold the door for them.
Scam #2: Giving Validation
The scammer will make a request and then give a reason to validate the request. For example, a person approaches you near a side door that you need to present a key fob to gain access to. He or she is carrying bags from a nearby grocery store and they need you to open the door for them because they left their keys in their residence upstairs. The word “because” here presents you with validation and might trigger you to perform a favorable response. This person is preying on your politeness.

Now that you know two of the most common ways scammers use social engineering to gain access to a building, here are some great tips to keep you and the other occupants of your building safe.
Tip #1: Just Say No!
Unfortunately for many, this is not very simple. We are taught from an early age to be polite and help each other, so a lot of people will be uncomfortable saying no and wish to avoid confrontation by not giving in to the request. Just remember that you are not obligated to say yes! Be confident in your choice to keep yourself and your community safe. If you still have concerns, put the focus on your building’s security or policy. You could say, for example, “I would really love to help you out, but it is against building policy to allow you to come in and I could get myself into trouble here. If you just go to the front desk or the security representative, they can help you.”
Tip #2: Offer Assistance
A technique pioneered by Walmart to combat shoplifting and theft is “The Greeter.” Simply saying, “Hi, I noticed you wandering the aisle for a bit, can I help you find something?” or even “Nice hat! Always good to see a fellow Phillies fan!” can go really far in deterring a potential criminal. Saying these things can accomplish two tasks for you. The first question implies that the person has been noticed doing what they are doing and now the person knows they are being watched. The second statement lets the person know that they have been seen and can be described later. Both of these are effective at deterring and assisting in the overall security and loss prevention mission. You can apply these tactics in the situations you come across at work and home as well! If someone is “lurking” and is looking for a chance to piggyback through a door, engage them in conversation, compliment something they are wearing, or ask them if you can assist them with something. The person will know they have spotted and will likely remove themselves from the situation.
Tip #3: Be Polite
If you are approaching a secured door and someone is behind you, you can slow down and allow them to go first, causing them to have to use their own key or key fob to access the door. An easy way to execute this approach is to simply take out your phone as if you received a text or call and step to the side, allowing them to go ahead of you. If the individual then asks to use your key or fob with some validation, you can revert to Tip #1!
Tip #4: Involve Security
If you see anything that seems out of place or just does not feel right right, trust your gut! Let a staff member know. Just because the person “seems nice” does not mean that they are. Trust your gut feeling and let a trained professional handle the situation.
OPS Security Group security professionals are trained to handle situations like these. If your building is in need of a security update, contact your building manager! And for more tips and information like this you can visit our blog page here: https://opssecuritygroup.com/blog/.

About OPS

OPS Security Group has over 80 years of combined experience protecting executives, businesses, residents, guests and government officials throughout Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Washington D.C. and New Jersey. As a regional security alternative with a service-first approach, we offer a level of customer service that international providers are too big to deliver. If you’d like to learn more, contact us!


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