Facebook & Twitter Usage Could Increase Burglary Risks

Social networking websites could well lead to an increase in burglary as users add "friends" they hardly know and accept "followers" they never met, which may include burglars, to their virtual trust circle.

Users of Facebook and Twitter often give away clues as to their whereabouts online and could easily be targeted by professional burglars.

This is especially easy in Twitter as the microblogging service already has a rudimentary geolocation feature and only 8 percent of users actually check whether they know their followers or not.

According to research carried out on behalf of Legal and General insurers who have enlisted reformed burglar, Michael Fraser, more than a third of users in a sample database have posted details of their holiday plans with around the same proportion saying whether or not they are away for the weekend.

Many users also forget that friends of friends can see and access details - including phone numbers and addresses - on Facebook and Twitter. L&G sent friend requests to strangers both on Facebook and Twitter and in the majority of cases, these were accepted without any quibbles.

Michael Fraser commented in the research that "It's internet shopping for burglars. It is easy to use social networking sites to target people and then find out more information on their actual home using other sites like Google Street View."

He also highlighted the fact that many potential thieves will use Google Street view to see whether a house or a flat has an alarm system or not.

Our Comments

The fact that L&G did this survey is notable in the fact that this could lead to social networking factors being included in accessing the level of risks associated with your online presence. Obviously, the bottom line is that your insurance premium could rise significantly.

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