Please note – the views in the following feature are those of the author and are not necessarily endorsed by Safe Travels Magazine. Before travel, we recommend that you always do your own research, read travel advisories and buy appropriate travel insurance.

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Lloyd Figgins at LFL Global Risk Mitigation

Email address: info@lflglobalrisk.com
Twitter: @LFLGlobalRisk

Lloyd is the CEO of LFL Global Risk Mitigation and author of Looking for Lemons – A Travel Survival Guide. He is a former expedition leader, police officer and soldier who has worked in over 80 countries, including some of the world’s more hostile and remote regions.


Is Social Media Making You a Victim of Crime?

With the summer holiday season in full swing, many people can’t seem to resist the temptation of sharing their holiday photos with their friends and family on social media. What better way to show off your beach body than with scenes of you lapping up the sun, sea and sand, whilst those left at home continue with the 9 to 5 drudgery. It’s also a great way of letting people, who may not be such good friends with you, know that you are away from home and your house is empty.

Criminals have long been utilising social media as a tool to identify when people are away and therefore which properties to target. And if your car is also left on your driveway, it makes it a very attractive temptation and raises the chances of it being “stolen to order”.

You wouldn’t stick a big sign outside your house saying “Away on holiday for the next 2 weeks.” So why post something on your Facebook page? And don’t be lulled into a false sense of security by claiming that only your friends can see your posts. In most cases this is not true. Of course this depends on your own security settings, but you also have to ask who can see what your friends are “liking” and “sharing” with others and how well you know those people. Or, more to the point, how well they know you. Do they know where you live?

It’s not just criminals who are wising up to the use of social media being used in the commission of crimes. Insurance companies are also tightening up their terms and conditions. There have been a number of cases recently where insurance companies have declined claims following a burglary because they (the insurance company) have been able to demonstrate that the victim posted the fact that they were away on social media pages.

So what’s the solution?

  • First of all, only tell those who really need to know that you are going to be away. This should include a trusted friend or neighbour who can go and check on your property while you are away.
  • Never post your address online, not even your street name. It’s easy enough to do a search on a persons name and locate where they live, don’t make it easier for criminals.
  • Turn off the location sharing features on your device. Why would you want to give people information about just how far away you are from your house and valuables?
  • Don’t post anything to social media whilst you are actually away. Take the time to enjoy your holiday and take a break from your electronic gadgets.
  • Wait until you get back from holiday to post all your amazing photos on social media. It will also give you the chance do some editing. Your friends will still be jealous of your tan, even if you’ve been back a week.
  • Boost your home security before you go away by installing an alarm, put your lights on a timer, or better still have a neighbour visit your home to collect your mail and draw your curtains for you.
  • Check with your insurance company about any exclusions there might be to your policy and make sure you are adequately covered.
  • A recent survey carried out in the US showed that 75% of convicted burglars admitted to using social media as a tool for identifying properties to target. If you are posting live details of where you are and what you are doing, you are doing half their work for them.
  • Most burglaries are opportunistic and burglars like to be in and out of a property within 10 minutes. However, if they know that no one is likely to disturb them, they will spend more time making sure they get all the higher value items. Posting your travel plans allows burglars to pre-plan their robbery of your property and therefore they are likely to get away with more.
  • Don’t think it’s just holidays that criminals target, it’s not. Even before the advent of social media, some of the more unscrupulous elements of society used the obituary and announcement pages of newspapers to identify properties that may be vacant whilst the owners were at funerals or weddings. So, certainly don’t go posting those sorts of events live to your Facebook page, as it informs people of where you are going to be and when.
  • Make sure you also apply this methodology to your business travel. All too often I see posts from friends that they are in the business class lounge of such an such international airport, heading to so and so destination. Not only does that inform criminals at home that they are away, it also informs criminals at their destination that they are coming to them. It also tells those same criminals that they are a business class traveller and which airline they are travelling on. You might well be targeted long before you land.

 

There’s no reason not to share your travel experiences and photos with friends on social media, just do so when you are back from your holiday or business trip And make sure it’s clear that you are back home in the way you word your post. “Just back from a great holiday in……….”

Far better to delay your social media posts than to come home to the scene of a burglary and have to deal with the aftermath of that after your well deserved holiday.


Lloyd Figgins is an international expert in travel safety and author of the new travel survival guide, Looking for Lemons. A former expedition leader, police officer and soldier, he has experienced at first hand some of the more dangerous elements of overseas travel. In over 20 years of working overseas, including in some of the world’s more remote and hostile regions, he has narrowly escaped being kidnapped by militia in the jungles of Colombia, survived an earthquake in Peru and was once targeted in a grenade attack in Syria. He is the founder and CEO of LFL Global Risk Mitigation.

Looking for Lemons is available from Stanfords, Foyles, Blackwells bookstores, as well as Amazon.co.uk and Amazon Kindle.  More information about Lloyd can be found at his website: www.lloydfiggins.com

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