Home security systems, dead bolts, and motion sensor lights are in the typical homeowner arsenal of security tools. While the aforementioned items protect homes in the case of a break in, there are steps homeowners can take to accompany their home security systems to prevent one.
As social media networks continue to grow in number and popularity, users are increasingly less aware of how personal the information they share with their friends really is. In fact, when users post updates on social media, especially those that are less selective in accepting friend requests, they may unintentionally be sharing important and private information with some unsavory characters in addition to their real-life friends. Outlined below are a few quick guidelines that will help you share smarter and keep your home and valuables safe.
Your Vacation Countdown: "Five days until Cancun!" is certainly exciting for everyone involved but to some of your followers, an update like this one could be an indication that no one will be home for that period of time. This may not only lead to a break-in, but your home could potentially become host to a party or even squatters. Furthermore, if you plan on allowing someone into your home while you're away to feed the fish or water the plants, don't tell that person where the key is hidden while online and don't leave the key where an intruder is likely to find it (on the door frame, under a rock, under the mat). Alternatively, you can use automated, wireless locks that are integrated with a security system to keep your doors locked when you want protection or unlocked when you need to let someone in.
Check-Ins: Most businesses encourage customers to check in and may even offer a reward for sharing your positive experience with your friends. While your location may be an especially cool one, check-ins also tell followers that you're out of the house and if you're tagging your friends, you may be putting them at risk as well.
Property Damage/Remodels: Pictures are a great way to document damaged homes for insurance but those are the only eyes that should see that your house is in such a condition. Damage could mean that your house security system has been compromised, that there is access to your home through a location other than a door or a window, or even that you're not currently living there.
Room Layouts: Buy a new couch? Change the way your bedroom is arranged? Sharing a photo of your living space displays whatever valuables you may have lying around. A photo of a room will also display the layout of your home which could help those breaking in map out their route.
Holiday Plans: Visiting family is a great way to spend the holidays but if you post your plans on social networks, you could be at risk for a break in. The holidays often mean that valuables and gifts will be out in the open and that homes will be empty for an extended period of time. If you're planning on spending time out of the house, be sure to be discreet online.
RSVPs: Public RSVPs to parties, school events, Evites (even only to people you think you know), and even weddings have been known to give intruders cause to target your home. Some of the worst examples involve intruders that look for funeral announcements and robbing people while they are giving their condolences. It is also easier than most people think to find someone's address online -- given only their phone number or email address. If you want to invite guests to your home, it is best to do so privately.
While a smart home security system, especially one that can be armed/disarmed via smartphone or with lights that can be activated automatically and remotely, is the best way to protect your house from intruders, these tips are meant to help those on social media consider who exactly they want to know that their house is empty. Being mindful of who one accepts friend requests from is the first step, as is advised by every social sharing site, but the best tactic is to really think about what you're sharing and with whom you're sharing it. In real life, would you be willing to tell a room full of people when you'll be out of the house, whether you know them or not? Consider this and not only your home, but your privacy as a whole will be better protected.