It is the holiday season, and you may be headed out from home on vacation. You are so excited you want to share your trip by posting about it on social media. Please don’t do that. You will be letting folks know that you will be away from your home which means that your house and belongings are ready and waiting for a break-in. For example, if you have a public profile on Facebook, anyone can see your status updates and the pictures you post. And if you post that your house is vacant, you are inviting trouble over. Even if you have enabled privacy settings, others can still see your postings through your friends’ pages with a few clicks of the mouse. Anyone seeing your information will know they have plenty of time to get into your home and leisurely take what they want while you are gone.
Something else to remember when posting pictures to social media is what people can see in your pictures. While those pictures of your birthday party are great and all your friends are tagged in the photos, others who are NOT your friends are much more interested in what they may see in the background. It could be the nice flat screen TV and gaming system in your family room. You may also be showing burglars what type of door locks you have or if you have no alarm system installed. Just be aware that strangers may be looking for a target and waiting for the opportunity to act.
Local thieves troll social media all the time looking for opportunity, especially during the holidays when people are not at home. And it is usually not too difficult for criminals who do this for a living to find out where you live. Unfortunately, it is not always a stranger. You should always make sure you have proper home security in place when you travel because your chances of being robbed are significantly higher if people know that you are not there. In fact, some insurers are increasingly rejecting claims made by customers whose houses have been burglarized while on vacation if they have shared the fact that they are away from home on social media sites.
You can still share your vacation pictures but hold them until you get back home. For the same reason, do not post travel countdowns leading up to your trip. Why give thieves time to plan? And as much as you are tempted to start off your vacation with a selfie from the airport, you should never publish a photo of your boarding pass. Again, if you are flying away on a plane, you are not home.
Here is an example of what NOT to do. Your family has purchased tickets to Disney Land over the holidays and you post that info on your social media accounts. What you are really saying is: “YAY! Just got our tickets to Disney. Of course, that means we have expendable income because we can afford this vacation. Luckily, all my Christmas gifts are wrapped and under the tree for when we return! We are leaving on the 16thth of this month, and we will be there all week long! While we are gone, you will have more than enough time to break in, search through our personal belongings and an entire week to steal what you want from our home!”
Go on that vacation and have a wonderful time, but do not advertise it to the world through the internet. Do what many people do and share photos and stories of your vacation when you get back home. You don’t really know who is reading the information you share online. Be smart about what you share and be smart about allowing your personal information to be as freely available as it already is. And remember, it is always a suitable time to update the inventory of your personal belongings and valuables. Check with your insurance agent to make sure you are covered properly.