Those selfies of you on a Marbella sunlounger are always fun to share on social media – but what about the darker side of telling everywhere where you are this week?
In other words…not at home!
Burglars can learn a lot from people’s Facebook pages and Tweets – where you are, when you left home and even when you’ll be back. That Facebook photo of you on the first day on that tempting Costa del Sol beach – innocently tagged something like “7 days of sun ahead!!” – can be like an open invitation for burglars to check out your home while you’re checking out the local lunch spots in Malaga.
And there’s another point to bear in mind – the fact that your insurer may not pay up if you are burgled.
According to the Financial Ombudsman, police see a connection between social media posts and burglaries – and so do insurers.
When you take out an insurance policy for the holiday, read the fine print because generally you’re expected to take “reasonable care” in making sure your possessions are safe, which includes not broadcasting your holiday plans, dates and location abroad to the world!
The Financial Ombudsman’s guidance says: “If you wouldn’t put a poster up on your front lawn saying you’re going on holiday for a few weeks, then don’t post the same thing online with your home details to a bunch of strangers.”
The problem is, we’re so used to sharing our photos and updates with friends and family, it’s second nature to post, Tweet and Instagram all those jealousy-invoking holiday photos, like the cool blue pool at your timeshare resort, but criminals can piece together more information about us than we realise, and announcing you’re away can be considered careless.
When you think about it, you can always post the photos…when you’re back.
This is a good time to review your social media behaviour, and make sure you stay safe online. Here are 5 ways to make sure you’re not sharing more than you think you are:
- Clean up your Friends list. It’s easy to do, start following someone and befriending them on Facebook, because they’re somehow connected to a friend of yours, but how well do you really know a friend of a friend? And what, in social media terms, does “Friend” really mean? Take a bit of time and “cull” your friends list – stick to the people you know and trust.
- Lock your profile. Occasionally sites like Twitter and Facebook change their privacy settings so if you’ve noticed this, make sure your privacy limits are on and you’re as “private as you want to be”.
- Location settings. Your smartphone or tablet will probably be prompting you to update your location but switching locations can reveal where you are at any given moment – something you might NOT want. Even messaging services can give your location away (as well as, for example Twitter, if you’ve got the location “on”).
- What can people see or find out about you? Search for yourself on Google and see what comes up.
- Services like Skype and Facebook ask for your birthday – but why? Is it really necessary to provide this info, apart from the fact that it’s nice to get birthday wishes from friends? The more we reveal the bigger, fuller picture online criminals can piece together about us – so don’t give unecessary info away! Think about it – they’ve got your name, date of birth, city or town where you live, then they know you’re abroad on holiday. It doesn’t take a genius to track down your address and the last thing you want to come home to is a burgled house or your driveway – without your car!