Watch Out!: Social Media Can Lead to Offline Crime
What are the odds that you will be the victim of a home robbery in your lifetime?
As more and more individuals use social media for shopping, socializing, and keeping in touch with friends and family, they can expose themselves to a dangerous element: criminals. Unfortunately for many homeowners and renters, one post or image too many on social media can lead to a robbery, or worse.
In 2011, according to the Pew Research Center, 65 percent of adults using the Internet claim they turn to social networking sites, with nine percent having opted into the Facebook and Twitter functions that label their posts with a location. In the meantime, a report from British-based insurance firm Legal & General, notes that 38 percent of social media users post status information regarding vacation plans, while 33 percent go to social networking sites to report they are gone for a weekend.
In the event you are a frequent user of social media, there are some precautions you can take to lessen the chances that you will end up victimized.
* Protect your privacy: While it may be fun and exciting to let the social media world know you are away for a weekend or longer, use your head. Even though many individuals you trust may be reading such details or seeing your vacation pictures online, it just takes that one criminal to ruin it all. Wait until you return from your trip to post images on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and other such sites. If you are out of town for the day or longer, wait until you return home to share or tweet about it. If you stop and think about it, most people don’t really care that you are traveling, so why put yourself and your possessions in a vulnerable position to begin with?
* Hide your location: It's not just your home or apartment -- you could be placing your life in jeopardy, too. For women especially, don’t share or tweet that you are on your way home from an event, especially when the location is involved. Criminals do monitor social networking sites such as Foursquare, Facebook and Twitter, looking for exactly such information.
* Don’t place possessions in peril: Don’t use social media to brag about that large coin or doll collection you have at home, even with a home security system in place. Especially if you post images on social media of the items and where in the residence they are located, it just makes it easier for the thief to strike, and quickly at that. If you want to share such photos online, don’t make it obvious where they are in the residence, do not give out your neighborhood, and never share or tweet that you will be going on vacation.
While there is much to enjoy and learn from social media, don’t put yourself or your residence/possessions in line to be the next statistic.
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