Lock the doors: check. Close all windows, upstairs and down: check. Leave a key with Bob next door: check.
Just when you thought you’d mastered the art of burglar-proofing your home, a new danger has emerged that could compromise the safety of your residence this holiday season. And that culprit is social media.
The holidays might bring tidings of comfort and joy, but they also bring nearly 400,000 burglaries nationwide in November and December. According to the FBI, family homes are the most frequent targets.
“Social media is definitely a factor in many of today’s burglaries,” said Joanna Moore, Mercury Insurance chief claims officer. “Instead of watching for mail to accumulate outside your residence, burglars can case your home by simply scanning your Twitter feed and monitoring your Facebook status for any signs you’re away. And it’s only getting easier with new features like Facebook Places, which allows users to divulge their exact location by simply checking in.”
Studies show that 70 percent of burglars are amateurs simply looking for an easy target, and 65 percent of the time the offender isn’t a stranger.
A follower on Twitter, perhaps? A friend on Facebook?
“You risk tipping off burglars to your home’s vulnerability by ‘tweeting,’ ‘updating,’ ‘posting’ or ‘checking in’ during your holiday travels,” said Moore. “There’s nothing more convenient for robbers than when their victims are away for an extended period of time. And you never know into whose hands your information is falling.”
Which means that your pre-trip checklist should include telling everyone in your family, including the kids, to not post information about your holiday travel plans. Criminals use social media, too.
Moore offers these additional social media tips to observe before taking off on your holiday vacation:
• Use social media to your advantage. Update social media to give the impression that your family is home. This may deter any potential outside interest in your property.
• Resist the urge to upload photos during your vacation. Wait till you’re home to flaunt your family’s Christmas trip to the Bahamas.
• Shut down your home computer. Disconnect from the Internet, especially if you store personal information on your PC. An unattended computer connected to the Internet is an easy mark for hackers.
Warning your family about social media and how it pertains to home safety will allow you to focus on more important holiday matters. Wrap the presents: check. Hang the stockings: check. Put out a glass of milk and cookies: check.
For more tips, visit www.mercuryinsurance.com/insurance-products/insurance-tips.html.
ABOUT MERCURY INSURANCE
Mercury Insurance (MCY) is a multiple-line insurance organization offering predominantly personal automobile and homeowners insurance through a network of independent agents in California, Florida, New Jersey, Texas, Arizona, New York, Georgia, Oklahoma, Illinois, Michigan, Nevada, Virginia and Pennsylvania. Since 1962, Mercury has specialized in offering quality insurance at affordable prices – core values that distinguish Mercury in the marketplace. Visit www.mercuryinsurance.com. ###