This was probably something very few people had considered when bragging about their holiday plans on Facebook. According to Confused.com, using Facebook or Twitter in this way ‘could raise your insurance premiums by 10pc’.
And when you think about it, it does make sense. Publicly-accessible services such as Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare and Buzz can alert criminals when users are not home. Foursquare, for example, shows that people are in a specific spot and, more importantly, that the user is definitely not at home.
The head of home insurance at Confused.com, said: “I wouldn’t be surprised if, as social media grow in popularity and more location-based applications come to fore, insurance providers consider these in their pricing of an individual’s risk. We could see rises of up to 10pc for people who use these sites. Criminals are becoming increasingly sophisticated in their information gathering, even using Google Earth and Streetview to plan their burglaries with military precision. Insurance providers are starting to take this into account when they are assessing claims and we may in future see insurers declining claims if they believe the customer was negligent.”
Their advice to users of social networking websites:
1. Never post your home address or other personal information such as your home phone number on social networking sites.
2. Don’t follow people you don’t know on social networks and use block others from seeing your profile if you don’t know them.
3. Turn off location-based services on Twitter and Facebook unless you absolutely need to use them.
And whatever you do, don’t do what this brainless burglar did and lead the police directly to you by accessing a Facebook profile at the scene of the crime (!). The Berkeley County Sheriff’s Department didn’t have to look far after a burglar committing a daytime robbery logged in to his Facebook profile WHILST in his victim’s house and he fled the scene leaving the page still open on his victim’s computer.
Gemma Carey, Bluewood Training Ltd