Protect Your Home in the Social Media Age
May 18, 2017
Even though your relationship with your social media apps is often one of both love and hate, we understand that you aren’t willing to give them up yet. After all, you’ve been going pretty strong for years now! Instead, we have a few tips for you to keep in mind as you scroll your Facebook News Feeds and go through your Snapchat and Instagram Stories so that you, your family, and your home remain safe and protected.
Leave Your Travel Plans Off Social Media
Social media has become a tell-all for many, and we are not here to judge, but please heed our advice: leave your travel plans and vacation photos off the internet until after you return.
You are practically doing a burglar’s job for him (or her) by indicating when and for how long your home will be vacant. And, with reduced odds of anyone coming home during the robbery, burglars might be inclined to be more thorough than the typical theft job.
Pro Tip: Do, however, post photos of your large dogs!
Resist the Urge to Check In
Speaking of rush jobs, dinner across town is more than enough time for the average burglary, which only takes a few minutes, to occur. And, while check-ins are on a much smaller scale than vacation and business travel posts, it’s the same concept. While the family is away, the burglars will play.
What are some alternatives so you can still enjoy your social media experience?
- Write a business review after your visit
- Mention (tag) the business you visited in a post
- Post something nice to that business’s wall
- Share a post from their wall to yours
- Create a Story later with your saved photos
- Send them a direct message
Pro Tip: Leave your phone off or in the car when meeting up with friends or family. This tip is twofold: it lends well to being in the moment, and you avoid the temptation to check-in (old habits die hard)!
Think Before You Share Anything
We have covered some one-off instances, but what about where you and your spouse spend most of your time: work. It’s tempting, we know, but try to refrain from being an open book in your social media profiles.
What do we mean?
To deter burglars, you have to think about how a burglar thinks. And, from past experience, we know that burglars are not afraid of broad daylight. They prefer to strike when they know you aren’t home and won’t be returning for a while.
What does this have to do with Facebook?
Social media services, and especially Facebook, like to get very personal because knowing detailed information about their users makes their advertisers happy. They also understand that people like to share, so when they ask you where you live, work, and who you are married to, you tend to want to answer! Now, anyone knows the name of your employer, your spouse’s employer, and the hours you are both gone each day. And, we are now back to square one with your home being an open book for the bad guys.
And, as far as data is available, at least to those paying attention, that is only the tip of the iceberg. Those looking to commit vicious crimes can get creative with the information available to them; check out this article from the Huffington Post about a staged bank robbery. The employees were in for a shock but learned valuable lessons!
Pro Tip: We have seen many instances where alias names or nicknames are used so that identity thieves are less likely to strike. This could also deter burglars since they won’t put two and two together!
Disable Location Access on Your Smartphone
We hate to think of your favorite social media platforms as accomplices to the bad guys, but we have reason to be suspicious. They not only want to know who you are and where you work but also where you are at all times! Luckily, it’s easy to disable this “feature” from the social media apps on your smartphones and tablets (see the iPhone guide below and click here for an Android guide).
Settings → Facebook → Settings → Location → Never
Settings → Facebook Messenger → Location → Never
Settings → Instagram → Location → Never
Settings → Pinterest → Location → Never
Settings → Snapchat → Location → Never
Settings → Twitter → Location → Never
Pro Tip: Your phone’s default location feature is likely set to “on,” which means its native apps (Maps, Camera, Weather, etc.) know where you are at all times. Considering turning location services off except during times of need (e.g. getting directions). This feature is usually found under Settings, then Privacy.
Bonus Tip: For safety purposes, location information may potentially be used when you place an emergency call regardless of whether you enable your phone’s location services.
Choose – and Organize – Your Friends Wisely
We have asked you to be selective about what you are sharing, and now we’re going to encourage you to be careful about who you are connecting with online. Then, we’ll suggest you to get organized!
First, choose wisely and connect only with people you know and trust, regardless of the platform. A good rule of thumb is if you don’t know someone, don’t connect unless it’s through an introduction. Even then, proceed with caution.
As you add friends on Facebook, take inventory and create custom Friend Lists to decide in advance who sees what. Is this person a family member you trust or a business networking acquaintance? Create different lists for each type of Facebook friend. This level of personal security allows you to share more or less depending on the content, and it takes your home security into account because it allows you to set limits.
Pro Tip: Never treat the internet as a safe place; instead treat any deeply personal and relevant information as though everyone can see it. Some details are best kept offline!
We hope you have not been scared away from your favorite social media services, but instead informed and educated on how to effectively use them without putting yourself and your family in harm’s way. You can never be too careful, and it’s our job to keep you Per Mar protected at all times! We invite you to browse our website for more information on your personal, home, and business safety.