I recently wrote an article on LinkedIn about how there are criminals who prey on people who put out ‘public’ posts about cool big boys toys or other items that they own. Things like shots of the boat on a trailer, or a couple of jet-skis in the garage, or having fun out on the lake.
Then with location services on, they check into their holiday location and start posting holiday photos from their holiday to Montego Bay in Jamaica, where they are snorkeling on the reef.
Now it doesn’t say their house is empty, but it does tell a Facebook Stalker that they won’t be back home in a hurry.
I have heard plenty of stories of criminal gangs who steal things to order and it is incredibly easy to search for people, things interests and location. The ability to do those searches are second nature to teenagers and young people who are looking for some easy money.
Just to prove how easy it is to do, I did a search for ‘Jet Ski Fun’ on Facebook. I found posts from individual people and was able to see where they work, which would make it pretty easy to find out where they live. Then I was able to see from their public posts whether they were home or away.
For someone who is on minimum wage or perhaps not working and living on the proceeds of organized crime, how much time do you think they would be prepared to invest in an item they could easily steal and sell for a few thousand dollars? I can tell you that a smart person could probably find a list of prospects in a specific town in a matter of an hour or two. Long before the owners get back home, their pride and joy could be in another part of the country.
How serious is this? Check out this article that came out a few days ago in The Independent that says “One in 12 Brits have reported a burglary after posting on social media, with more than half of these admitting they had location tagging turned on.”
The statistics in the article are pretty scary and the Internet is full of stories about the risk that people posting their stories, photos and video with location services turned on, are not adequately protecting their property.
I did a search on Google about ‘Insurance Companies Using Facebook.’ I got 422 million results in half a second. That should give you an idea of whether the industry is looking at this problem.
Maybe it would be a good idea to share your posts more privately and share your holiday pics when you get back home. What do you think?