We love social media. Many of us can’t last more than a few hours without checking Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. But some people don’t just use social media to share pictures of their cats or tweet about the latest news...
Criminals trawl social sites searching for profiles with low privacy settings and posts about upcoming or current holidays. They use a number of search techniques combined with readily available tools from the internet – think maps, geotagging and street view.
Luckily, there are things you can do to protect yourself from tech-savvy thieves.
Check your privacy settings
Whatever social platform you use, ensure your privacy settings are set so only friends can see your profile. Even the “friends of friends” option on Facebook can be dangerous as you may not know all your friend's friends. Check your location or geotagging settings as well – if you post a photo on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram with the location setting enabled, the place and time of the photo is automatically added to the image and post
Think before you post
When you update your status or upload an image onto Instagram, consider your future plans. If you tell the world you’ll be in Bora Bora for the next two weeks, that’s a big window of opportunity for a burglar to find your house, inspect the property and swoop in for the steal.
The same goes for pre-departure selfies. A cheeky snap with your suitcase taken outside your home may seem like a great idea at the time, but anyone who sees the photo will then know what your home looks like. Combine this with an automatic location marker and it wouldn't be hard for a would-be thief to take a virtual wander through your neighbourhood, direct to your front door.
Think before you “check in” somewhere. This is another sign that you’re not home and may not be for some time.
If you sell items on sites such as TradeMe, take care if you list a valuable object with a picture - it could include identifiable or unique features of your home and give away where you live.
Be cautious with hashtags
Searchable (and popular) keywords such as #holiday or #vacation are easy pickings for criminals looking for a place to burgle. Not only does this tell someone that you aren't home, but hashtagging your street or neighbourhood makes it even easier for unwanted visitors to track you down.
Oversharing = open to intrusion
You may like to make it easy for people to contact you, but listing your address on social media is a big no-no. We tried it with a willing team member who didn’t have many privacy settings on her Facebook profile (it was set to 'public' so anyone on or off Facebook could see her whole profile). Within minutes, we knew what her home looked like from a photo of her new car in her driveway and found the general area where she lives from geotagged photos she'd uploaded. A quick street view trip then put us right outside her place.
Don’t leave yourself open and vulnerable. As well as the above, take on these quick tips:
- If you're going away, ask a trusted neighbour to collect your mail, open and close curtains during the day or park their car in your driveway.
- Don’t upload or share holiday photos until after you return.
- Check your privacy settings on your social media accounts. Make sure information is only available to approved friends or followers.
- Make sure your contents insurance or travel insurance is up to date and you have receipts for all your belongings.The new year is a great time to take stock and add those Christmas pressies to your list of contents you need cover for.
The Neighbourly Home Contents locker is also a great tool for you to keep a record of all your precious belongings, including receipts, just in case the unthinkable does happen. You don't have to load up your whole house, start small with the things that are most precious to you. It's private and secure so no one else can see your stuff but you.
When was the last time you checked the value of your contents? You may have more stuff than you think. Download our contents checklist for a handy way to calculate your sum insured.
Don't have contents insurance? Get a quote online today.