Would you invite someone you didn’t know into your house and show them the expensive things you have?
Would you put a notice in the window saying that you were away on holiday?
Would you provide a detailed location map of where you live to a criminal and then tell them when you’re regularly out of the house?
Of course you wouldn’t. But you may do online without even realising.
According to recent research…
51% of Facebook users accept friend requests from people they have never met.
84% of 18-35 year olds share photos of valuable possessions on social media networks
Social networks have become a burglar’s best friend. They don’t need to watch houses to see when people are out, they can do it right from their computers. Checking in at different locations, posting holiday snaps while away, sharing photos of expensive items – these all provide a would-be thief with valuable information that they can use to target you and your home. Checking in at every gym visit or painting class tells them the days when you’re always out. Likewise, a check in at the airport informs them you’re likely to be away for at least a few days.
But I have secured my privacy settings…
You may have set your privacy so that only friends can see your posts but how well do you know all your friends? Half of Facebook users have more than 200 friends – do you really know and completely trust that many people? Even if you do, what if one of your friends’ accounts gets hacked or they use a shared computer and forget to log off?
You also need to consider the other people who live in your house. Teenage children especially can make you vulnerable. Statistically speaking 12-17 year olds have an average of 521 friends. Does your teenager really know over 500 people? What are their privacy settings like? Do they post about being home alone or show off their iPad or Xbox? Do they announce that you are on holiday or do they use social media to invite people to a party that then gets out of hand and you end up with a lot of strangers in your house?
There are a number of things that you can do to reduce the risk of course:
- Don’t overshare – don’t ‘check in’ when you go out or even state where you are in a status, particularly if it’s somewhere you go to at a regular time/day
- Don’t let people know you’re on holiday – wait until you get back to post photos or enthuse about a meal you’ve had or attraction visited
- Don’t accept friend requests from people you don’t know. You may also want to consider going through your friends lists and editing it periodically. There are estimated to be 83 million fake Facebook accounts worldwide so not everyone is who you think they are – consider deleting the ‘lurkers’ who are on there but never post anything
- Share these tips with anyone else who lives with you and check their accounts to make sure they stick to them
- You can’t avoid every risk so it’s best to make sure you use your burglar alarm if you have one and if not you might want to consider getting one – 9 out of 10 burglars would be deterred from trying to enter a property if they had an alarm fitted
- If you want to keep an eye on your home while you are away you could even consider having CCTV installed that you can monitor remotely
The best tip of all is to assume that anything you post online can potentially be seen by anyone. Would you be happy to still post it if that was the case? If not, don’t put it out there (plus, nobody really cares whether you’re at the gym again!).
If you would like to talk to us about your home security just give us a call on 01924 371941 or drop into our security shop in Wakefield.