Would you walk into a crowd downtown, hold up a sign with your home address on it and announce “I’m going on vacation for three days!”? Would you leave an outgoing message on your answering machine that you are away for a week?
Before you snort, “of course not, that’s an invitation for burglary!”, answer this: Have you ever updated your Facebook page to let your friends know that you are on vacation – providing pictures to prove it? Have you ever Tweeted that you are on your way to an all day festival?
It’s the same thing. Really. Consider these alarming articles including the most recent about a burglary ring in New Hampshire that was targeting Facebook users:
- Burglary ring targets Facebook users in New Hampshire
- Woman burglarized after announcing she was going to a concert
- Videographer burglarized after announcing he was going on a trip
These are early cases of what could be a growing trend. As a part of social media culture, we feel compelled to share our experiences in real time, so others can feel like they are going with us. While this might be generous, creators of www.PleaseRob.me would tell you that it’s a case of over-sharing.
It’s easy for a motivated individual to correlate your home address with your online profile. In many cases your profile offers your real name, email address, city, etc. which provide clues for any cyber-sleuth looking through credit card, domain registration, white pages or public record databases.
You might think that you can change your privacy settings to only allow your friends to see your updates. In Keri’s case (second link), one of her “friends” was the burglar. Although it wasn’t a close friend, it was the same kind of friend-of-a-friend that you likely accept on Facebook.
If you want to share your travel and excursion experiences, don’t do so in real-time. After you are home, post your updates, and talk about them as a fresh past tense occurrence. This may help to keep the bad guys guessing.
Photo credit: BioJobBlog.com