Don't Tell Twitter Your Vacation Plans
The Good With the Bad
Twitter, blogs, message boards, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media platforms are great ways to connect with large groups of people. Transparency, being open about who you are and what you do, has many advantages. It generates trust. It builds relationships. In addition to the benefits openness provides, it also has dangers. Knowing what these dangers are and how to protect yourself, your home and your family, is not difficult and may just keep you from becoming the latest victim.
Dangers of Over-sharing
Everyone knows posting confidential information to the Web is an identity theft waiting to happen. Thieves will do whatever they can to get your valuable information, but did you know even disclosing your location could lead you to become a victim? Last month Israel Hyman, (Twitter handle @IzzyVideo) posted on Twitter that he and his family were on vacation in Kansas City. He also set up his Twitter account to automatically update his Facebook status with that information. After his family vacation, Mr. Hyman returned home to Arizona only to discover he had been burglarized, with thousands of dollars of video and computer equipment gone.
How Did It Happen?
In addition to Mr. Hyman's 2000+ Twitter followers, anyone could have logged onto Twitter to check his status. Once they know you will be away, thieves do not need much to find your home. A name, a cell phone number, a Web site address (which they can check for contact information) or a picture may be all they need to connect your "I'm on vacation" post with a Google Map to your home. So what can you do?
Think Before You Post
The solution is not to stop interacting online. The solution is simply to think before you post. Refrain from posting outside your closest network of friends things like: "I'm home alone" or "I'm working late." Also, continue to post while on vacation. Posts from your friends, such as "Has anyone heard from Jane? She has not posted for days" are cues that your home may be vacant.
Stay in Touch
If you are online, your network of contacts is actually your best defense against becoming an online victim. More than likely, someone in your network will be the first, not only to alert you to potential threats, but to tell you how to protect yourself from them. If you are a real glutton for punishment, and need all the latest information about cyberlaw and online threats, feel free to follow me on Twitter @BrettTrout