Share with friends not with thieves this Christmas

19 December 2011

Nearly half of all smart phone users check in or update their status revealing their location on sites like Facebook, Twitter and foursquare, new research by SGIC has found*.

And with so many people announcing their daily movements via social networking sites, SA residents could be putting their homes at risk of a break in over the Christmas holiday period.

"Social networking sites continue to increase in popularity in Australia, and so does the amount of personal information people put out there.

"It's a great way to stay in touch, but we're asking people to be a little careful with the information they give out as thieves can connect the dots about where you live and the fact that you're away from home," SGIC Home Insurance spokesperson Adele Buhagiar said.

Ms Buhagiar said a recent UK study found that nearly 80 per cent of ex-burglars claim they strongly believed social networking sites are being used by current criminals when targeting households.**

"We'd expect that this would be similar in Australia where social media is so popular. Many of us like to post online that we're at a holiday resort or even just away for the weekend at the beach, but where you can, you should be selective about what you post to avoid being the victim of opportunistic thieves.

"Your casual update about the fun time you're having could be inadvertently inviting thieves to target you, but there are things people could do to minimise the risk."

Tips to help keep homes safe over the Christmas break

  • Turn off automatic locating functions. Most social media sites with geo-location and tracking functionalities have options to turn them off.
  • Review your privacy settings. Make sure you understand who you are broadcasting your information to each time you post. If you are not comfortable with what people can see about you, change your settings.
  • Be careful of where you "check in." If checking in at various locations, use precaution. Consider checking-in as you leave or at every other location.
  • Maintain that lived-in look at your home. Ask a neighbour to park in your driveway, stop paper delivery, set-up timers for household lights, and lock up.
  • Don't provide personal information. Never post your home address or birth year on a social networking site, regardless of your privacy settings.
  • Make your family aware of security risks and ask them not to advertise family holidays on social networking sites.

* Based on Pure Profile survey of 360 SA residents in October 2011

** Research by the Survey Shop UK August 2011