Sure, it’s the season to share gifts, time and presents — as well as information about all our holiday activities. However, we must all be wary of what we share with the public on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms.
‘Tis the season to beware of multiple scams, from phony gift cards to fake charities seeking donations, as this Walpole, Massachusetts, Patch article explains. There are also thieves looking for empty houses to rob.
Given all the risks surrounding us, we should do our part not to expose potentially high-value information to total (and potentially felonious) strangers. This includes any social media posts that tell the world our homes are empty and unprotected while we are away visiting family
Loose Lips on Travel = Big Risks
Traveling is obviously a major risk. It leaves your house and property vulnerable for hours, days or even weeks as you visit friends and relatives. As this blog has noted previously, telling the world on Facebook you’ll be away from your home for any length of time is highly risky.
Would-be thieves can seek out such residences on Facebook and identify temporarily unoccupied houses to rob during the holidays. In fact, the town of North Andover, Massachusetts, considers social posting on any travel information a “holiday hazard” and urges citizens to say absolutely nothing about their whereabouts.
Personal Data: Holiday Risk
Don’t think our travel data offer the only means to invite crooks to steal from us. Consider identity theft, among other risks. Caution on social media, says one Chicago Tribune article, also applies to posting photos of such items as gift cards or driver’s licenses.
You can be sure that cyber bandits are always looking to access your private data and unlock such things as your bank account and credit cards. Such people can be remote, or they can be in your neighborhood.
Just last month, the United States Department of Justice announced the arrest of two Bay State cyber criminals (from Brockton and Rockport). In a press release, the feds state the duo was “conducting an extensive scheme to take over victims’ social media accounts and steal their cryptocurrency using techniques such as ‘SIM swapping,’ computer hacking and other methods.”
We don’t need to make it easier for such people (here in New England or elsewhere) to operate.
Self-Protection in Cyberspace
Do you still feel the need to update friends, colleagues and family on your activities, gifts and whereabouts this season? There are some steps you can take for reasonable self-protection from cyber theft, as well as physical house burglaries. (These are culled from sources listed above, as well as from here and here.)
- Never show personal data in holiday photos (gift cards, etc.)
- Regularly update your social media account passwords
- Don’t friend strangers
- Don’t be too exact when discussing travel details, such as dates of check-in and the like
- Monitor your privacy settings: these can frequently change
To take one extra step to protect your home and property while you’re away, consider installing an alarm with a high-resolution camera-based security system and related monitoring service. This way, you’ll give the bad guys a lump of coal this year.
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