Facebook: Internet Shopping for Burglars

September 9, 2009 at 7:30 am Leave a comment

Through MSNBC, I recently found the results of a study by Legal & General, which found that 38% of Facebook and Twitter users post information about upcoming vacations. In addition, the study found that 13% of Facebook friends and 92% of Twitter followers are accepted by complete strangers. The study also found that young people (16-24 year-olds) were most likely to share detailed vacation plans through social media. But not only are people posting their vacation plans—practically out on the open—they are also raving about all the new stuff they just bought when they were gone, like a new flat-screen TV, iPhone, or laptop.

Internet Shopping for Burglars

What this boils down to is an environment ripe for criminals to find out when you will be out of the house and exactly what to steal—right from their own couch. Criminals no longer have to troll neighborhoods looking for mailboxes bursting with mail, all they have to do is follow people on Twitter or Friend them on Facebook, and they’ll know exactly who to hit and when.


Fight Identity Theft also just publish a story covering the ways that Facebook quiz developers can access your profile and your friend’s profiles when you agree to take a quiz made by them. Says the California ACLU:

“Even if your Facebook profile is ‘private,’ when you take a quiz, an unknown quiz developer could be accessing almost everything in your profile: your religion, sexual orientation, political affiliation, pictures, and groups. Facebook quizzes also have access to most of the info on your friends’ profiles. This means that if your friend takes a quiz, they could be giving away your personal information too.”


What should your strategy be?

  • Don’t share anything online that you don’t want any stranger to see. If you don’t want strangers to call you, don’t post your phone number—it’s that simple.
  • Check your social media privacy settings. Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites allow you to set security levels—use them!
  • Don’t broadcast to the world every time you leave the house. You may want people to know you’ll be out of town, but if it is really important for them to know, you can always send them an email or give them a call.
  • Bragging about big item purchases is a no-no. Do you walk through the mall telling everyone that you just bought the latest, greatest, fastest, $5,000 laptop? If not, then don’t do it online either. If someone is looking to steal one, you’ll be at the top of their list.

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