You probably have a mental checklist of precautions you take to keep your house safe from break-ins while you're on vacation: have the post office hold your mail, put your lights on timers, ask the neighbors to keep an eye on things. But law-enforcement agencies are urging summer vacationers to add another precaution to their list: Watch what you share on social media.
Along with your friends, family, and co-workers, your social media feeds may also be monitored by criminals waiting for their chance to strike, as police in Riley County, Kansas, have warned. And they're not alone.
Here are some social media tips when going on vacation this summer:
- Don't announce your plans. Even if your accounts are set to "private," sometimes the friends you have on social media may not be as good of friends as you thought. Announcing the timing of your vacation -- when you're leaving and when you're coming back -- could be an invitation to those who may be looking for an easy score. Case in point: A string of burglaries in New Hampshire that netted over $100,000 worth of stolen property was committed by teens who used Facebook to target the homes of people on vacation.
- Don't "check in" from faraway places. With many social media platforms adding "check-in" features to let users share their locations, it can be tempting to humblebrag about eating too much at an amazing beachside restaurant halfway around the world. But giving real-time location updates is also good way to let criminals know you're not at home.
- Post your photos when you get back from vacation. With photo-sharing apps like Instagram, more people are posting photos of their journeys as they go. But as police in Glendale, Arizona, warn, posting real-time photos of your trip is proof-positive for potential burglars that your home is fair game.
- Avoid posting photos of expensive household items. You may be extra excited about that giant TV you just bought, but posting photos of expensive household items or large amounts of cash to social media is asking for trouble. Don't give criminals a chance to window shop your possessions from the comfort of their home computer.
The best part of a vacation can often be coming back to your own home. And with the help of a little social media safety, you can make sure your home stays just the way you left it.
- NYPD's Social Media Unit Tracks Facebook (FindLaw's Blotter)
- I Know What You Did Last Summer, Thanks to Social Media (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)
- Is Your Teen Sharing Too Much on Social Media? (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)
- Teen Breaks Into Home to Check Facebook, Urinate on Couch (FindLaw's Legally Weird)