Selfie dangers: Vacation pictures can put your home at risk!

social media safety1While Quebecers look forward to the summer months and vacations, many are unwittingly putting their homes at risk by posting their absences or whereabouts on the internet.

A new Allstate Insurance survey found that almost one quarter (23 per cent) of polled Quebecers have in the past posted on their social media accounts that they were away from home. Poll findings also showed that over half (52 per cent) of the 18 to 24 age group have shared that they were travelling on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and 43 per cent in the 25 to 34 age group have done the same.

“Although it can be so much fun to share our travel experiences with others, oversharing is a trend that can potentially put the safety of your home at risk,” says Patrizia D’Ignazio, Allstate Agency Manager in Monrtreal on July 19. “Allstate Insurance would like to remind Quebecers to think twice before announcing their travel plans online in advance, or during their trip.”social media safety2

Travelers may know basic home safety procedures when away, like having the mail and newspaper deliveries temporarily stopped or picked up by someone they trust, or installing an automated lighting system. What they might not take into account is that all these efforts could potentially be wasted if they publish that they are away from their home on vacation on social media sites! This summer, 33 per cent of polled Quebecers said they plan to take at least a couple days’ vacation during the construction holiday period which runs from July 24 to August 6.

“When making travel plans, remembering to lock the front door and turn on the alarm system – if you have one – is one thing, but oversharing on your social media pages without the necessary precautions is to be avoided,” says Francisco Randez, TV and radio host, social media and travel media safety3

You don’t have to stop sharing, just be mindful of when and how you share
With the increasing popularity of social networks, today’s cybercriminals are using information easily available to them online to plot break-ins on their potential victims’ homes. In the era of social networking, geolocation – the identification of the real-world geographic location of an object such as a mobile phone or computer terminal – can be blamed for break-ins and Google Street View is fast-becoming a sneaky tool used in planning burglaries. Most people provide a wealth of personal details such as their workplace location, people with whom they have relationships, their vacation timing and their address, and that can be putting them at risk.

According to the survey, sixty per cent of men and just over half of women (51 per cent) do not always deactivate their geolocation on their mobile device (smart phones or tablets) while travelling. ”Travelers may be excited to post a countdown leading up to a trip or getaway or that they are en route or have arrived at their destination, but they need to be mindful of what, when and how they share online,” adds media safety4

Make it a family affair
The younger generation with access to mobile devices should also be kept apprised of potential risks. They may be putting the family home in jeopardy by sharing private information on their whereabouts and travel plans. Almost half the survey respondents (43 per cent) have children with active social media accounts and one third of parents (33 per cent) are not in the habit of monitoring what their children post on their social media accounts. The poll also shows that 11 per cent of parents aged 35 to 44 do not regularly check their children’s social media activity. In teaching children further about the proper use of social channels, parents can help keep their homes safer from thieves who may be monitoring them online.

Top safety tips for homeowners on vacation
To help protect travelers from social media-savvy burglars, Allstate Insurance has partnered with Francisco Randez, TV and radio host, social media and travel expert, to offer some topline safety media safety5

On social media

  • Be aware of your use of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social networks. Do not publish your vacation departure dates on your social media accounts and remind your children not to do so either. Even if you are careful and only a few friends can see what you post, it is possible that some of your contacts have much less rigid security settings.
  • Check the privacy and security settings of your social media accounts, and use them to determine who has access to your personal information. You can set the parameters according to the highest possible level of security to protect your personal information and know which “friends” can access detailed personal information rather than “everybody” or “friends of friends.”
  • Before posting pictures, ask yourself if they reveal too much information.
  • Avoid posting photos with geotagging. Most smart phones and many digital cameras automatically record the exact location where a photo was taken. If you view this photo online, geotagging can reveal the street address or that you are far away on vacation, making your home a target. Disable geotagging functions and remove geotags on your older pictures using photo editing software.
  • Set an example and teach your children and other family members to be careful online.
  • Consider saving your photos for posting once you return home instead of throughout the trip, making it clear you are back home.

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